The Liberals and Nationals Government is standing by our farmers in Wide Bay affected by drought, Member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien announced today.
"We know the importance of looking after our farmers, and the Morrison Government will invest a further $57.4 million to ensure our farmers, their families and communities get the support they need as the drought continues," Mr O'Brien said.
"The Liberals and Nationals Government has made drought a national priority - we are investing over $6.3 billion in drought support to help our farmers and rural communities."
This new suite of initiatives builds on the Coalition Government's commitment to establish a $5 billion Future Drought Fund.
"We will establish a new restocking and replanting concessional loan of up to $200,000 through the Regional Investment Corporation, to make sure Wide Bay can bounce back when the rains come. These loans will be available with a two year interest free period and no interest accrual."
Mr O'Brien said this will help farm businesses immediately rebuild and restore their business following successive years of financial hardship brought about by harsh drought conditions.
Further to this, the Coalition Government will progress the recommendations of the Farm Household Allowance (FHA) Review with the agricultural sector, including making the FHA available to farmers for four in every ten years.
"We will also make the $5 million farm asset threshold permanent so the FHA is even more accessible," Mr O'Brien said.
"We understand that when our farmers are in drought, so are the small regional businesses that support them. If re-elected, we will deliver $7 million to establish a pilot rural financial counselling service to help small regional and rural businesses with financial planning, mentoring and coaching."
Around 45 specialist counsellors will be employed in rural communities around the country where drought is having a major impact on local small businesses.
The Liberals and Nationals in Government will also extend the Drought Communities Program to an additional 14 Councils that are facing severe drought. This brings our support to 110 Councils across NSW, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania.
The Coalition's drought plan is backed by a strong record of delivery including:
- $266.9 million provided to over 11,200 farmers in Farm Household Allowance fortnightly support payments.
- $40 million in additional FHA lump sum payments to about 6,400 farmers since September 2018.
- $77 million investment in the Rural Financial Counselling Service – 4,000 farming business are being assisted.
- $30 million to support more than 10,000 households in drought areas delivered in cash and vouchers through charities.
- $131 million for the Drought Communities Program to deliver local infrastructure and drought relief projects.
- $5 million provided to the CWA to support their drought efforts.
- $29.4 million in mental health support.
- $15 million for 48 projects to tackle wild dogs, pest animals and weeds in drought.
- $50 million for on-farm water infrastructure.
- $2.7 million for localised weather guides.
- A $72 million special drought round of the National Water Infrastructure Fund.
- $36.9 million for the Great Artesian Basin to implement a range of immediate and long-term capping and piping measures.
"Only the Liberal and Nationals Government is standing by our farmers and their communities through the drought. Labor has no plan for drought, no plan for agriculture, and no plan for rural and regional Australia," Mr O'Brien said.
This funding is only possible because of the Morrison Government's strong management of the budget.