The state government’s $500 million emergency drought relief package, announced on Monday morning, delivers on what farmers have been asking for, according to Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall.
Speaking to Fairfax Media, Mr Marshall said the package, which takes the total assistance for farmers to more than a billion dollars, is “really pleasing”.
“I think this package delivers on what everyone’s been asking for – reintroduction of drought transport subsidies to allow farmers a subsidy on the cost of bringing in feed, taking livestock out of the region, bringing in water, pretty much any form of transport that they need to undertake there will now be a subsidy for,” he said.
“In addition to that, there’ll be a waiver on all Local Land Services rates, water, bore fees and charges, also a waiver on the registration of class one agricultural vehicles.
“There’ll also be extra funding for financial counselling, for mental health counselling and a whole host of other services for farmers.
“I’m really, really pleased. I think this delivers on what people have been asking for and whilst government cannot make it rain, cannot change seasonal conditions around, I think this is brilliant, because this is government actually stepping up to the mark and doing everything it can to help our farmers in what is the most difficult time we’ve experienced, for some, in living memory.”
Mr Marshall said this funding will “do a hell of a lot of good for a lot of people that need it right now”.
“People are in different situations, whether you’re a grazier or a cropper and whether you’ve completely de-stocked like a lot of people have, you’re trying to keep your core breeders going or you’ve been able to put a lot of hay aside or get hay from somewhere else. But for most people that are now looking to get feed in from interstate this transport subsidy will be a huge relief for them,” he said.
“Every single saving that government can help these farmers make is extra money they can put into keeping their core breeding stock alove for when times turn around.
“For many in our region this will be absolutely welcomed. I think our region has probably been one of the better parts in the state in the last three or four weeks; we’re certainly not in as bad a condition as some properties in the Central West, even down around Tamworth and Gunnedah, but things are abslutely crook and they are going to get a lot worse before they get any better and that’s why this package is timely and why it’ll do a hell of a lot of good in our region and I think it delivers on what’s been asked for.”
Mr Marshall said he believes the government is doing what it can and what it should be doing to help and thanked NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Deputy Premier John Barilaro and Minister for Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair for “listening to farmers in our community and delivering on what they need”.
“Over the last few weeks I’ve met with dozens and dozens of farmers, I’ve been on people’s properties, I’ve been surveying the situation as it has dramatically worsened in our part of the world in the last three to four weeks,” he said.
“No-one could have predicted that it was going to be this sustained and this bad, particularly in the middle of winter. We are not used to having such extremely poor conditions this time of the year and that’s why this drought is unique and why this extra package, I believe, was needed.”
Mr Marshall said over the coming weeks both state and federal governments need to monitor the situation and keep an open mind to the type of support they can provide if conditions continue to deteriorate.
At a glance
The three major elements of the $500 million Emergency Drought Relief Package are:
- About $190 million for drought transport subsidies;
- About $100 million for cutting the cost of farming fees and charges – by waiving Local Land Services rates, waiving fixed water charges in rural and regional areas, and waiving class one agricultural vehicle registration costs, among other initiatives, and
- $150 million to bolster the Farm Innovation Fund (FIF) infrastructure program;
The package also includes funding for:
- Counselling and mental health;
- Critical services in regional communities including transporting water and drought related road upgrades and repairs; and
- Animal welfare and stock disposal.
The NSW Rural Assistance Authority will begin processing applications from Monday, 6 August. For more information on the NSW Government’s emergency drought relief package visit www.droughthub.nsw.gov.au or call 1800 678 593.