The Opposition is disappointed the first parliamentary sitting week has passed without the Government introducing a farm household support bill.
The Abbott Government has had plenty of time to consider a drought response and at the conclusion of his farm tour, the Prime Minister must at the very least, announce he will legislate for a more accessible farm family payment, and legislate quickly.
In the lead up to the Griffith by-election, the Prime Minister said he would consider bringing Labor's new farm family support payment forward from 1 July. But with the Senate not sitting until 3 March this past week has been a lost opportunity to help our farmers.
In recognition of the severity of the drought and its impact, the Opposition stands ready to support any appropriate Bill with a more generous means test, and help ensure quick passage through both the House and the Senate.
I call on the Prime Minister to complete his drought tour with an immediate commitment that he will introduce a Bill on the return of the House of Representatives on Monday February 24 to ensure its passage through the House and transmission to the Senate ready for its first sitting week in March.
Labor also confirms again its support for changes to its debt relief Farm Finance scheme to make it more accessible for drought affected farmers.
Further, the Abbott Government must urgently reinstate the $40 million it has taken from the scheme.
The Government must also immediately reinstate the Standing Committee on Primary Industries (SCoPI) to resurrect the COAG process and to complete the national drought reform.
A drought tour is all very well and good but it must be backed-up with immediate action.
Saturday, 15 FEBRUARY 2014