Uncertainty continues to rise in drought-affected communities due to a culture of indecision and political self-indulgence within the Morrison Government, said Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Joel Fitzgibbon.
“It’s the first day of November and more than 12 months since Scott Morrison's Drought Summit, but farmers are still waiting for some meaningful action. Drought-affected families are looking at a long summer but see no Government plan,” said Mr Fitzgibbon. “Christmas is not far away and the Morrison Government is more focused on itself than it is on developing a plan for communities caught in this terrible drought.”
Mr Fitzgibbon said along with the uncertainty created over the Farm Household Allowance – and how long the supplementary payments would last – there was now uncertainty among the relief organisations who rely on Government funding to assist vulnerable people.
“Five weeks ago the Prime Minister announced $30 million in funding to the St Vincent de Paul and Salvation Army organisations in recognition of their expanded task in drought-affected communities. ABC Radio reported today that this funding has not been delivered. Has that funding been released to the Salvos and Vinnies? Or was this just another Scott Morrison thought-bubble?”
Mr Fitzgibbon said hands-on relief organisations such as the Country Women’s Association and Foodbank are struggling to keep pace with the growing need in drought-stricken regional areas, but were faced with uncertainty from the Morrison Government.
“The New South Wales CWA says it needs another $10 million right now, to distribute to vulnerable people across the state,” said Mr Fitzgibbon. “They made their request in early September but still haven't received an answer. Foodbank faces a similar uncertainty. I remind Scott Morrison that organisations like these are not waiting for hand-outs from Canberra – they are proactive and they gain some support from generous donors. However, the Morrison Government must play its part and provide some certainty.
“While this Government navel-gazes over policy and wastes valuable time calming National Party MPs, indecision over its drought response is eating-away at morale in the bush. Scott Morrison has to take control, release the Drought Coordinator’s report and develop a national drought plan. He’s the Prime Minister – farmers and communities are waiting for a plan, and the relief organisations need certainty for their funding arrangements.”