Drought is GFC for the bush: Frydenberg

Drought is GFC for the bush: Frydenberg

Politics
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg with Sandy and Ben Swan at their property near Inverell, in northern NSW.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg with Sandy and Ben Swan at their property near Inverell, in northern NSW.

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Small businesses and farmers tell the Treasurer they need an urgent cash injection.

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Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is listening to farmers' call - they need direct cash support to get through an unprecedented drought.

"This is a crisis. As one family member said to me this is the community's GFC (global financial crisis)," Mr Frydnenberg said today in Inverell, northern NSW.

"What we've seen with desotocking, and heard from local mayors about people taking their own lives, shops closing and communities struggling."

During his drought tour over the past two days the Treasurer has been keen to manage expectations of significant new initiatives soon, but the message he has heard appears to be sinking in.

Farmers at Inverell told the treasurer that the New England district, like large swathes of NSW and Queensland, was four years into the worst drought on record and cash money was needed to help them keep the lights on.

Inverell mixed farmer Ben Swan, proprietor of Byron Pastoral, spoke with the Treasurer when he visited his property on Thursday morning.

Byron Pastoral has drastically destocked to manage its feed through the drought.

Byron Pastoral has drastically destocked to manage its feed through the drought.

Mr Swan said good management and careful feed rationing and herd management had seen him hang on to 300 heifers but he was losing money keeping them fed.

"There is no silver bullet. But the message we want to get across is - this is a crisis," Mr Swan said.

"It's gone from being the worst drought in history to the worst drought in history to the factor of... well, whatever.

"We need a cash injection, and you can brand it however you like, in a subsidy or interest rate cut.

Mr Swan said future proofing investment through initiatives such as the Future Drought Fund "is terrific".

"But we don't want to get that (future proofing) mixed up with the next 12 months. People need a cash injection now," he said.

"Interest free loans "don't touch the sides."

Mr Frydenberg said he and Mr Littleproud had come out to hear first hand about the impacts of the drought.

This is the community's GFC - Josh Frydneberg

New England MP Barnaby Joyce, Byron Pastoral proprietor Ben Swan, Treasurer Josh Frydneberg, and Drought Minister David Littleproud.

New England MP Barnaby Joyce, Byron Pastoral proprietor Ben Swan, Treasurer Josh Frydneberg, and Drought Minister David Littleproud.


"Australia cares and the government cares. What happens in these paddocks affects all of us, not because what is in this paddock turns up on your plate, but because it creates jobs and is important for regional Australia," he said.

"Businesses should be encouraged to keep on their staff where they can.

"You can't blame the staff if they lose their job they may have to move to find a new one. We want to see these resilient community's get the support they need, and they have been getting support.

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"When this drought breaks we want to ensure it can get back to normal as quickly a possible."

Drought Minister David Littleproud said he had written to state governments asking the premiers to consider covering the cost of local government rates for small business and for farmers.

"They could look at payroll tax too because businesses are hurting."

Earlier on Thursday Mr Littleproud released a national set of innovative guides to local climate trends to highlight new production risks and limitations.

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