Labor's Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Joel Fitzgibbon, has called for immediate action from the Morrison Government as hundreds of drought-affected families are being kicked off the Farm House Allowance (FHA).
Mr Fitzgibbon said news that 570 drought-stricken farming families have lost their Farm House Allowance in the past two years because they’d reached their four-year limit will leave rural communities bewildered.
Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce, has rubbed salt into the wound by declaring struggling farmers should walk off the land.
“In their greatest hour of need, the Government has hit farming families with an act of bastardry,” said Mr Fitzgibbon. “They’ve kicked 570 families off the $489 per fortnight payment, and then Barnaby Joyce goes on television and tells these people to walk off the land.”
Mr Joyce told Sky News on Friday morning:
“We’ve got to support you in the drought but if your place is just not viable, $36,000 just isn’t going to make a difference and people have to answer their own question in their own mind if this is the job in their life for them. People who have not made a profit in the last ten years really need to seriously think what are you doing with your life what are you doing on the land?”
“Barnaby Joyce has set the bar too high. To be still struggling in the seventh year of the worst drought in our history should not place you in the unviable column. It does not justify his unsympathetic comments,” Joel Fitzgibbon said
“Farm Household Allowance is difficult to qualify for and too many find it too hard. The families on FHA are amongst the hardest hit by the drought.”
Mr Fitzgibbon urges the government to consider a moratorium on the FHA time limit.
“Labor stands ready to work on a bipartisan basis with the Government to ensure drought affected farmers receive the assistance they need”.