Australian farming communities are being affected by a shocking and protracted drought and Australian farmers are suffering more today than should be necessary because of five years of policy inaction by the Abbott and Turnbull Governments.
What we have seen from the Prime Minister is a drought listening/selfie tour and a round table which have done nothing for struggling farming families.
With Malcolm Turnbull’s support, Barnaby Joyce walked away from drought policy and our farmers. He abolished the CoAG committee, its processes and the policy agenda set-out in the 2013 Intergovernmental Agreement on Drought Reform.
Instead, Joyce and Turnbull relied heavily on loans. For most farmers, more debt is not a solution. They have not put in place any options for farming families coming to the end of their entitlement for Farm Household Allowance. The Government has made Farm House Allowance so difficult to access many farming families have given up trying to qualify.
Meanwhile the Turnbull Government is spending tens of millions of dollars on pork barrelling exercises like they APVMA relocation to Barnaby Joyce’s electorate and the establishment of the Regional Investment Corporation in Orange. That’s money that could be going to help drought affected farming families.
The foundation of good drought policy must be a focus on resilience and adapting to changing climatic conditions. We need a commitment to best-practice natural resource management. But you can’t commit to adaptation if you don’t believe the climate is changing.