The Nationals in Government have improved access for heavy vehicles carrying supplies and stock to drought-affected areas.

It’s the latest measure aimed at helping farmers, families and communities get through the drought, which is now affecting 100 per cent of the State.

The new NSW Class 3 Drought Assistance Dimension Exemption Notice, which will come into effect by August 15, will allow more hay to be transported per truckload, reducing costs for farmers.

NSW Nationals Candidate for Barwon Andrew Schier said it was a welcome addition to the Government’s drought measures, with the Nationals working hard to reduce costs for farmers.

“Freight is a major cost for farmers so I welcome this announcement,” Mr Schier said. “There’s a huge demand for transport and freight is a huge cost so the more hay we can get on one load the cheaper it is for our farmers. The new notice means farmers who’ve been having trouble moving hay should now find it much easier to get it to the places it is needed most.”

The latest announcement comes on the back of more than $1 billion secured by the Nationals in Government for drought assistance to date and is another step designed to help assist farmers at this difficult time.

Drought applications are being prioritised through the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) portal, by including the word DROUGHT in the reference section of the application.

Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey said the transport of feed, water and livestock was critical to supporting our farmers and their families through these very tough times, and simplifying the process for heavy vehicles to gain access to the road network supported the safe and efficient movement of feed, water and livestock in drought-affected areas.

The new NSW Class 3 Drought Assistance Dimension Exemption Notice will:

  • Allow eligible vehicles transporting hay to travel under notice and without a permit, including B-doubles up to 26 metres long; up to 2.83 metres wide on all approved roads; up to 4.6 metres high, on the approved 4.6 metre high network
  • On a case-by-case basis, allow access permits for road trains on roads not currently approved for road trains
  • On a case-by-case basis, provide access permits for trucks transporting loads of hay in excess of 4.6 metres high
  • Refund or waive National Heavy Vehicle Regulator and Roads and Maritime permit fees for drought relief applications
  • A dedicated hotline (1800 952 292) and website for any questions or queries transport operators or farmers may have

Former NSW Farmers President Derek Schoen was appointed as the State’s Drought Transport Subsidy Integrity Advisor. Mr Schoen, who has a mixed farming property at Corowa, said he was looking forward to the opportunity to work with industry and Government.

“There is no question this drought is biting hard and I am committed to making sure this assistance measure reaches those most in need,” Mr Schoen said. “To make sure our farmers are supported, we need to ensure there are open lines of communication and active monitoring of freight prices during the roll-out of the program.”

Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair said Mr Schoen was a well-respected farmer and agribusiness leader, who would work between Government and industry as an independent advisor on the price pressures faced by our farmers due to the increasing demand of stock feed.

“Every dollar rorted is a dollar that doesn’t help a farmer and I won’t accept anyone gaming the system,” Mr Blair said. “Derek’s industry experience and work with sectors across NSW puts him in an ideal position to advise Government on any emerging trends of concern to farmers. He will work closely with the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Market Insights and Analytics Branch to monitor prices of freight and fodder during the Drought Transport Subsidy program, ensuring consumers and producers are not left vulnerable in the marketplace. The Nationals in Government are committed to ensuring farmers, their families and the taxpayer gets the best bang for their buck from the subsidy program.”

Information on the drought assistance measures the Federal Government has in place can be accessed here: http://www.agriculture.gov.au/ag-farm-food/drought/assistance

Information on the drought assistance measures the NSW Government has in place can be accessed here: https://www.raa.nsw.gov.au/

If you are worried about anyone, farmer or otherwise, who is doing it tough, please encourage them to seek help. Rural financial counsellors provide referrals to counsellors and support to access programs and there are also a number of phone and web-based support services of particular help to farmers. They allow access to expertise without the need to travel and are fully confidential. The following numbers can be called free of charge for assistance 24 hours, 7 days a week:

• Lifeline 131 114
• Beyond Blue 1300 224 636
• MensLine Australia 1300 789 978
• Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467