Malcolm Turnbull told parliament today that more support was on its way to regional Australia and it would focus on long-term drought policies.
“We are working on further long-term measures to improve the resilience of our rural communities and will be announcing this next phase of our drought support and coming weeks,” Mr Turnbull said.
“There is no set and forget here, just as the drought evolves so must our policy responses. We have to be as practical and clear eyed as the farmers we are supporting.”
Mr Turnbull said drought, unlike natural disasters like flood and fire, was a slow-growing and long-lasting problem which presented a range of challenging decisions to farmers.
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“A drought is insidious, longer and more widespread. Farmers find themselves going to enormous expense just to keep livestock alive in the hope of rain. Physically working harder than ever and losing money all the time,” Mr Turnbull said.
“Part of drought preparation and management is timely destocking, but that raises the awful question, whether you will be able to afford to restock when the drought breaks.
“A NSW farmer who destocked six months ago will feel confident he made the right call, his neighbour may wish he had done the same, but if it had rained five months ago, the perceptions would be reversed. The croppers are facing hard times as well, many winter crops sown will fail, others won’t be sown at all.”
Mr Turnbull said the government’s previously announced drought response, worth $576 million, was delivered in response to “the worst drought in New South Wales since the mid-1960s”.
“To our farmers, who grow the food we eat and the fibre we wear, we thank you for your tenacity and courage. And now, in these hard, dry times, more than ever, we have your back,” he said.
Last Friday Labor announced a drought policy which focused on additional Centrelink staff to increase social services in drought hit communities.