Federal Nationals Member for Page Kevin Hogan has hit out at Labor for suggesting drought-stricken farmers don’t need drought relief.
Mr Hogan made the comments after meeting with Robert Gordon, one of many local farmers impacted by drought conditions in the Kyogle area.
“Labor have questioned Kyogle’s need for drought assistance. People can see for themselves how desperately this assistance is needed for Kyogle,” Mr Hogan said.
Standing next to an abnormally dry creek bed, Mr Gordon – who is a multigenerational local farmer – said he had never seen it so dry, for so long, on his property.
“I am having to buy in exceptionally expensive feed to keep my core breeding stock,” he said.
Kyogle Mayor Danielle Mulholland said she “has been taking calls daily from distressed farmers who need help. They are running out of drinking water and feed for their stock”.
“It is exceptionally disappointing to have Labor question our need for the assistance the Federal Government has provided,” she said.
Under the Drought Communities Programme Extension secured by the Nationals in Government, Kyogle Council will have access to up to $1 million to complete local infrastructure and drought-relief projects.
Farming households can also receive up to $3000 to spend in their local communities to cover urgent bills such as food, petrol and utilities, taking stress off families and boosting the local economy.
“The effects of the drought are not just felt on the farm – regional communities and businesses suffer as people spend less in towns,” Mr Hogan said.
The Nationals in Government are working with the Salvation Army and St Vincent de Paul Society to make sure this money hits the ground quickly and gets to those most in need.
The Government will also simplify Farm Household Allowance applications. The changes will remove business income reconciliation, change the time limit on payment to four years in every 10, simplify the assets test and recognise agistment.
“These changes will make FHA quicker and easier to access,” Mr Hogan said.
“The Government also announced an injection of $740,000 of contingency funding to five Rural Financial Counselling Service providers who are experiencing pressure from increased demand.
“It’s really important that those in need of support do not self-assess their eligibility and instead seek advice from an expert, like a rural financial counsellor.”
“This new package will boost the economy, create jobs, engage local businesses and provide a long-lasting benefit to the community and the rural industries it depends on.”
Member for Page Kevin Hogan
The Federal Nationals in Government have already committed more than $7 billion worth of assistance to help support our drought-affected farmers and communities.