As thousands of farmers struggle through harsh and relentless drought conditions, news has emerged we will be waiting until mid-way through next year until a report from a review into the effectiveness of the Farm Household Allowance (FHA) is finally delivered.
Labor has been alerting the Government to failings with the Farm Household Allowance since 2014 and joins the many farming families and support services concerned about the time it will take for recommendations to be handed down.
Critical questions on whether the support is reaching farmers in need, whether the scheme is fit for purpose or providing assistance to help farmers improve their long-term financial circumstance are all still unanswered.
All the while the Government has been steadfast in denying any problems with the FHA. In fact it’s the reason Barnaby Joyce was driven to doctor his Hansard after embellishing its effectiveness.
The challenging nature of the process to access FHA support payments has been well documented. The onerous and confusing paperwork has only caused more stress for farming families who are already undergoing enormous hardship.
Up to 20,000 farmers are potentially eligible for the FHA, yet just 2000 are receiving the support payment. That means very few farmers will be accessing the $12,000 supplementary payment the Government most recently introduced as a measure to assist most in need as the drought lengthens.
Labor has been calling for the Government to ensure that assistance is getting to farmers as quickly as possible with support on hand from Centrelink officers when they need it.
The current drought has exposed the consequences of the Liberals’ cuts to Centrelink, with so many eligible farmers missing out on the FHA.
All we have seen from the Coalition Government is listening tours, talk fests and media opps when it comes to responding to drought.
Farmers deserve real and meaningful drought policy and effective support.
The Australian community deserves to know that taxpayers’ money is being well spent and reaching those who need it the most
This dysfunctional Government continues to fail our farmers and regional communities.