Nationals MPs are calling on their own colleagues in Government to extend support in the drought concessional loans scheme while Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce dithers on getting the drought relief out that is already available.
Since the Prime Minister’s drought tour in February, only $40 million (14 per cent) of the $280 million allocated to the scheme has reached farmers. That’s about the same amount which will be returned to consolidated revenue because it was allocated but unspent in the 2013/14 financial year.
It’s the same story with the Farm Household Allowance payment – it simply isn’t reaching the famers who need it most.
Member for Maranoa Bruce Scott said the scheme:
“is too complex and many are giving up as a result”. (August 20, 2014).
Barnaby Joyce then embarked on another tour in September – this time with Joe Hockey so that he could see first-hand how bad the drought was. Mr Hockey then added some of his own political spin by stating that “We have been to Walgett and Mitchell (and) Charleville and really it is about listening, not just turning up when you know it is an absolute end of the road crisis but actually you know, being a participant on the journey.”
Farmers don’t need politicians to roll up for more drought tours. They need effective and accessible assistance, reaffirmed by the Government’s own members including the Member for Mallee Andrew Broad who said:
“People have raised with me that they are having difficulties filling in forms for farm household support payments. The forms are too long. Often the forms are online and time out before people have a chance to fill them in. We need to make that more streamlined” (House of Representatives October 27, 2014).
The Government’s drought package has been a failure and Coalition MPs and Senators are now lining up to admit it.
Meanwhile, the best Barnaby Joyce can do is doctor the Hansard to cover up his failure on delivering to drought affected farmers.
TUESDAY, 4 NOVEMBER 2014