Barnaby Joyce misled the Parliament and thousands of farming families last week when he said “But it is not the case that you apply for the money and then you have to wait for your application to be approved. You actually get the money straight away”.
In Question Time last week, the Agriculture Minister wrongly said “We are happy with the fact that over 4,000 applications have been through and you actually get the money until the department decides that you are not allowed to get the money” he further added that “But it is not the case that you apply for the money and then you have to wait for your application to be approved. You actually get the money straight away”. He then changed the Parliamentary Hansard by adding reference to the Interim Farm Household Allowance and that his statement did not apply to new applicants – but he didn’t tell farming families that he got it wrong.
Having now given three different answers to the same question, the Minister chose today to hide behind the protection of his Prime Minister, who closed down the debate rather than allow his Minister to explain himself and apologise.
In Barnaby Joyce’s case, the cover-up is worse than the crime. It was bad enough that he misled farming families – but his cynical attempt to hide his misleading statement is an absolute disgrace.
Now we know, really there are three victims as the Minister has provided another statement to the Parliament today claiming he had no knowledge of the doctored Hansard – so we have the Parliament, its rules and standards, but more importantly, Australia’s drought affected farming families and the Minister’s staff who may have been trying to make sense of their Minister’s original answer.
The Minister can blame his staff but nothing changes the fact that he led farmers to believe eligibility for Farm Household Support was automatic upon application and that no drought-affected farmers need wait for financial assistance.
The Government’s drought package is in chaos. Thousands of farmers are fed up with its failure to deliver.
MONDAY, 27 OCTOBER 2014