During Budget debate in the Federation Chamber tonight, Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce refused on several occasions to guarantee that:
1. The $40 million he took from Labor’s farm concessional loan scheme would be returned as he originally promised.
2. The other $40 million he won’t spend this financial year because he can’t deliver his own drought concessional loan scheme will be rolled over to the next financial year. Minister Joyce also refused to deny that not one cent of his drought concessional loans scheme has reached farmers. We can take it then, that it is true.
The Prime Minister’s February drought tour and subsequent announcement that he would quickly deliver concessional loans to drought-affected farmers can now best be described as a stunt.
It was a great political circuit breaker for the Government but more than three months on farmers are still waiting.