Barnaby Joyce's declaration that Queensland and NSW farmers will soon be to "apply" for concessional loans under the well-publicised drought package does not pass his own test of less than one week ago.
On ABC radio last Friday, more than 3 months after his national drought package announcement, this exchange took place:
Journalist: “Timely is the keyword because ever since the rural lobby’s repeatedly asked when the centrepiece of the drought assistance package, $280 million in concessional loans, would be available. Now there’s an answer”.
Minister Joyce: “Early June, in fact very early in June”.
In the same interview Minister Joyce repeated: “I’m absolutely confident that in June it will be happening”.
Having one state signed up does not pass that test. Nor does the capacity to apply for a the drought concessional loan guarantee that money is “happening”. Who knows how much time will pass between “application” and “payment”?
Furthermore, the Abbott Government has again failed to deliver assistance to WA.
This failure follows on from the Minister’s comments in March that the drought loans are “a matter of priority with loan guidelines to be signed, hopefully next week”, 26 March 2014.
We know now Tony Abbott's drought tour and the drought assistance announcement was a great political circuit breaker but it has brought little relief to farming families.
Rural communities across the country are entitled to feel another promise has been broken.
WEDNESDAY, 4 JUNE 2014