PM’s $1b package for struggling farmers


Agriculture Minister David Littleproud today said “big dollar amounts” would be provided not just for help in stricken rural areas but to enhance their futures after the drought and stimulate community finances

“This is about making sure that we can look in the here-and-now so it can be used for expenses like fodder, water carting, but it’s also for the recovery,” he told the Seven network.

“Importantly, we made a commitment before the election to have restocking and replanting loans of only $200,000 but (now) we see $2 million will help people restock and replant in a more timely fashion and in a better way that gives them opportunity for more cash flow when it does rain.”

The new instalment of funding will come from the existing Future Drought Fund. This means the spending will not affect the Budget bottom line, and thus will not put the proposed surplus for 2019-20 at risk.

And the statement today has resolved politically embarrassing demarcation tensions between the Liberals and the Nationals over who was helping create drought policy.

A previous drought assistance announcement was made by Prime Minister Scott Morrison to the exclusion of the Nationals. Today is a joint announcement with the Nationals doing much of the talking.

A key measure will be the offer of loans which will be interest and repayment free for the first two years, with the next three years interest-only and then another five years to fully repay.

“So this is about understanding that it takes time to rebuild those cash flows,” said Mr Littleproud.

There also would be stimulus payments to encourage communities to maintain economic activity – hiring locals for local projects.

The Agriculture Minister said: “Like other natural disasters like a flood, what happens is we have to go back and rebuild roads and what happens is that brings in people to stimulate, to build those roads.

“And so what we want to do is emulate that in a drought. This is a natural disaster and we have to treat it as a natural disaster and we’re simply looking at other natural disasters, how we might expedite the recovery and the stimulus.”



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