Drought-stricken parts of New South Wales and Queensland were in the Government’s focus this week with a visit to the regions by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Agriculture and Water Resources Minister David Littleproud and a number of their cabinet colleagues.
The Parliamentary delegation visited the farming communities of Trangie, Narromine, Blackall, Charleville and Boulia, taking the time to visit properties and to talk one-on-one with farmers.
The Prime Minister, who on the weekend had himself been feeding cottonseed to his own cattle on his family’s property in the Hunter, said the purpose of the tour was to get a better understanding of the how the drought was impacting farmers and their communities and what could be done to support them.
“Our job is to listen, to learn and then to make sure we provide the support we can,” Prime Minister Turnbull said.
The below image from the Bureau of Meteorology’s Monthly Drought Statement shows the 14-month rainfall deficiency across the nation with the driest regions being the mid-north coast of Western Australia; east Gippsland in Victoria; the Hunter and central west and north west of NSW and southern and central west Queensland.
In a press conference in Trangie, NSW, Prime Minister Turnbull said he had a wide-ranging chat with local farmers about how the Government could assist with drought support.
“We’ve talked about how to make it easier for people to freight fodder in from interstate, we've talked about the support that can be given to enable farmers to be more resilient, to make it easier for them to access the many types of support that are provided.
“But which often, you have to face pretty daunting piles of paperwork to fill in," the Prime Minister said.
On the visit the Prime Minister spoke often about the need for the farm sector to adapt to a drying climate
"We've got in this wide brown land of droughts and flooding rains, we have to be resilient and we have to recognise the nature of the climate we face and make sure that we've got all of the tools, both from government, and in terms of animal husbandry or in agricultural practices, to deal with it.”
National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) President Fiona Simson also met with the PM in Trangie.
Ms Simson said drought support policy was complex and there was ‘no silver bullet’.
“I valued the opportunity to talk through the many options with the Prime Minister and Minister Littleproud.
“The National Farmers’ Federation believes drought support must focus on risk management and preparedness; support during drought and assistance to enable rapid recovery.
“It is an absolute must that drought policy and support programmes be streamlined across Federal and State jurisdictions – while at the same time being flexible enough to allow for regional variations in both climate and production systems.
Read NFF’s drought policy here
Ms Simson said the NFF recognised climate changed poses a significant challenge for Australian farmers.
“All of the farmers I speak to have no doubt the climate is getting hotter and drier, they say this because they are dealing with it every day of their working life.
“Farmers, ever agile, are well advanced in adapting to this increased variation.
“The NFF Climate Policy states that as a nation, we must act to ensure that our economy is well placed to cost efficiently reduce our national greenhouse gas emissions profile.”
Read Fiona Simson’s blog Farmers already adapting to changing climate but strategic drought relief welcomed
Upon wrapping up its ‘drought listening tour’, the Government announced yesterday an additional $20 million for the Rural Financial Counselling Service
Read more about the Government’s drought tour on the PM’s media page https://www.pm.gov.au/media