Australian farming communities are being affected by a shocking and protracted drought and Labor welcomes the Prime Minister’s drought assistance package announcement today.
Labor has been saying for months that we stand ready to support additional and meaningful support for suffering farming families.
We’ve also been saying for four years that the Farm Household Allowance is failing farmers. As recently as a month ago the Government was saying it’s fine. Then a little more than a week ago they said they would review it but it would take time. Today they are suddenly and dramatically changing it.
The Government needs to ensure that those seeking assistance are able to contact and access Centrelink, which has been made even more difficult since the Turnbull Government cut almost 2,500 Centrelink jobs over the past two years.
That’s all important short term. But if the Government is serious about responding to drought it has to recognise the climate is changing and becoming more challenging.
We need to follow the science and build farm sustainability and resilience in a range of ways including helping farmers embrace new technology and best-practice farming methods.
Last week Labor announced a plan to use the agriculture-based research & development corporations to build on best-practice farming methods and to ensure they are embraced at the farm level.
For five years the Coalition has failed to progress this crucial part of the drought reform agenda. We must put it back on track.