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Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon welcomes drought announcement for the few farmers it will assist


Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon has welcomed the drought support for the few farmers he says it will assist.

The Turnbull Government announced over the weekend a $190 million package which includes lump sum payments to eligible farmers.

Single farmers will receive just over $7,000 and eligible couples will receive $12,000 in two lump sum payments. One at the start of September and the second next year.

Joel Fitzgibbon said the plan lacks a long-term solution.

“Unfortunately the plan still lacks a long-term vision. We have to accept that the climate is changing, it’s going to be more challenging and continue to grow more challenging over time,"

When it comes to the eligibility criteria and the application process for the new payments Joel Fitzgibbon believes that the “government has done nothing to improve the complexity of the system and the hurdles involved in securing these payments".

“Farmers are already asking what if we don't have substantial rain between now and then, what's the next step?"

A long-term plan is what Labor is calling for and New England MP Barnaby Joyce wants to see more water infrastructure in place.

“The thing I like pushing for is always water infrastructure. The essence of drought is lack of water and the more we can do to store water, you’re not going to remove the drought but you give the capacity to alleviate it,” he said.

“If you haven’t got water, you’ve got nothing,” said Barnaby Joyce.

The former Deputy Prime Minister and Agriculture Minister believes the latest announcement from the Federal Government is a step in the right direction.

Joel Fitzgibbon on the other hand has questioned the government on numerous occasions on their drought support and particularly Barnaby Joyce for abolishing the COAG intergovernmental agreement in 2013 to coordinate drought support.

"Frankly we just lost five years, we had a plan five years ago. Barnaby Joyce came to power and abolished the COAG process,"

"Four years on they still haven't improved the system and all of your listeners know how difficult it is these days to get help and support at Centrelink and that's because the government has so dramatically cut down their resources and their people."

In response, Barnaby Joyce says Labor and their Hunter MP have done nothing to help drought-stricken farmers.

“What is the Labor Party’s drought package, Joel? You’re the ag minister mate, what have you got? Even though you’re in opposition, it wouldn’t cost you a cent, you could just tell us what it’s going to be knowing full well that by the time you guys get in the drought will be over,”

“All they ever do is commentate on what’s wrong with the things we’ve done when they the Labor Party do nothing at all.”

“When Joel, when the Labor Party were in power they managed to get out 367 people on Farm Household Allowance, well by the time I finished we had over 7,00 people,” said Barnaby Joyce.

“I think that explains the difference between the Labor Party and the Coalition when it comes to looking after people during the drought.”

Image credit: Grant Broadcasters/Jessica Rouse