Seven months after his drought tour with the Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce finally announces farmers in Western Australia can “apply” for drought assistance.
But WA farmers won’t be too hopeful having seen the poor success rates in Queensland and NSW three months after applications were opened in those states.
At the beginning of September only 15 Queensland farmers and 13 farmers in NSW have been successful in securing a drought concessional loan. Just 6 per cent of the drought loan money which had been put aside has been spent.
In the absence of a policy change, the experience for Western Australian farmers is not likely to be any different and these concerns are shared by the WA Farmers’ Federation.
“Despite assurances that everything was being done to make these loans available promptly, we are now six months down the track and applications have only just opened. Had the loans been made available sooner, those in need could have put in crops, appropriately serviced their stock or crops, or substantially improved the operating conditions of their farm businesses”.
“There were still concerns about the eligibility of many in need considering the onus to prove substantial rainfall deficiency. While many areas of concern have had substantial dry periods or erratic rainfall, these are not often recognised through official rainfall data. WA Farmers’ President Dale Park – Media Release – 23 September 2014
The February drought tour was a great political circuit-breaker for the Government but it has done little for drought affected farming families.
Yesterday Barnaby Joyce held a roundtable but the time for talk passed long ago.
Farmers need help, not another talk-fest.