Labor is disappointed the Turnbull Government rejected the opportunity to support proposed amendments to the Farm Household Support Amendment (Temporary Measures) Bill which would have given struggling farmers the opportunity to receive the Farm Household Allowance (FHA) supplement payment as a $12,000 lump sum payment.
The reality is, many farmers won’t have access to cash payments for up to 10 weeks. During this time daily living expenses and debt will continue to accumulate and farmers should be given the option of receiving the supplement payment as a lump sum payment.
The current drought has been severe in many parts of the country and there are farming families who desperately need assistance with putting food on the table, paying school fees and other daily living expenses.
There is no logic or rationale behind the split payments on 1 September 2018 and 1 March 2019 for the supplement and contrary to Malcolm Turnbull’s comments to David Koch on Sunrise that “March isn’t that far away”, Labor is fully aware that farmers need cash assistance as soon as possible.
Labor has supported all the Government’s drought measures put forward and is not seeking to politicise assistance to our farmers.
However, the fact is the Turnbull Government has been asleep at the wheel, Labor has announced it will restore the CoAG process for drought reform, which was abolished by the former Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce.
Labor has also announced it will dispatch Australia’s agriculture-based Research and Development Corporations to help farmers prepare, build defences against and recover faster from the impacts of an increasingly variable climate such as protracted drought, severe storms, frost, pests and diseases.
A future Shorten Labor Government will focus on long-term drought policy based on adaptation and resilience-building in response to a hotter and drier environment.