Drought-stricken communities are being supported by the Nationals in Government at both a State and Federal Level.
NSW Nationals Leader, Deputy Premier John Barilaro, was in Tamworth on Wednesday to hear from farmers about their drought experience.
The visit came just two days after he announced a massive $500 million Emergency Drought Relief Package, taking the total secured by the Nationals in Government to help farmers and communities to more than $1 billion.
According to The Northern Daily Leader, Mr Barilaro said the Government was working on new packages in case spring rains didn’t arrive.
“If it rains and the drought breaks, what do we do to support farmers to get right back into it,” Mr Barilaro reportedly said. “The alternative is, if we continue to have the dry spell and the drought bites even harder, what’s next and what else can we do.”
The Emergency Drought Relief Package included waiving Local Land Services rates, waiving fixed water charges in rural and regional areas, transport subsidies back-dated to January 1 and funding for critical services and mental health support.
The NSW Rural Assistance Authority will begin processing applications from Monday, August 6.
The NSW Nationals weren’t alone in tackling the drought, with the Australian Government’s response, led by Agriculture Minister and Federal Nationals MP David Littleproud, totalling more than $1.3 billion in assistance to farmers and communities experiencing hardship. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull MP joined Mr Littleproud on a recent visit to a number of drought-affected regions across NSW and Queensland to see conditions on the ground.
“We wanted to hear first-hand from our farmers about how these conditions are affecting not only them and their families but also their local communities,” Mr Littleproud said.
“Several good ideas were raised during their visit in relation to existing and potential relief measures and our Government is now exploring those options. While the Nationals in Government are providing significant levels of support, we understand the importance of continuing to listen to our farmers and their communities as to the effectiveness of the measures in place.”
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