While visiting drought-affected Queensland last week, I was advised that farmers were being refused access to Qld rural financial counselling services because they had successfully applied for the Farm Household Assistance payment.

Having refused to do so under questioning in the Parliament last night, Barnaby Joyce must re-assure drought-affected farming families that receipt of the Farm Household Assistant payment will not exclude them from rural counselling assistance.

Rural counselling services not only help farmers with immediate financial challenges, but assist them to plan their finances for the future. 

Since 1986 the Federal Government has provided funding grants to not-for-profit organisations to employ suitably qualified rural financial counsellors.

It makes no sense to deny farmers who have found it necessary to turn to a government payment to be denied expert rural financial advice.

Three and a half months on from the Prime Minister’s drought tour, farming families are wondering what it was all about.

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