It is now clear the announcements of drought assistance which followed the Prime Minister’s well-publicised drought tour in February 2014 have been a failure, and this weekend, he is about to concede as much.

The 2014 drought tour was more about stopping the political bleeding than helping drought-affected farming families. 

Any announcement on drought assistance this week will be all about Tony Abbott trying to shore up his own job – just like it was last time - rather than the Government providing much needed assistance.

The TV and newspaper pictures of the drought tour might have been a good publicity stunt, but 15 months on, few farmers have found help in the announcements which followed.

The promised $280 million concessional loans sounded big, but little of it has been spent because too many farmers just don’t qualify or have simply concluded they are a waste of time, particularly as interest rates continue to fall.

Farmers were led to believe last February that additional drought assistance was imminent. They were deceived.

When Labor questioned Barnaby Joyce about the failings of his drought assistance in Parliament last October the best he could do was to mislead the Parliament and blame his staff for doctoring the Hansard and the dismissal of Department Secretary, Dr Grimes.

Furthermore, the communities in which these farmers live are also being disadvantaged as a consequence of the drought. 

These communities were recently told they would receive a financial boost through Commonwealth Financial Assistance Grants to local government in order to bring forward infrastructure projects.  But these are the same grants the Abbott Government cut by almost one billion dollars in last year’s Budget.

It appears that tomorrow the Prime Minister will try again.  Let’s hope this time Tony Abbott will do more than look out for his own job - many drought affected farming families and their communities cannot hang on much longer.


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