Media Release

Seeing drought conditions first hand

1 February 2014

Australian Agriculture Minister, Barnaby Joyce, and Minister for Human Services, Marise Payne, are combining resources to listen to farmers affected by drought and to help them access the support measures available to them.

Minister Joyce is meeting Queensland and New South Wales farmers this weekend – travelling from St George in the north to Coonamble in the south – to talk about the effects of drought.

“I know there are many farmers, and their families, who are doing it tough and facing challenging circumstances in many regions across Australia,” Minister Joyce said.

“The family farm is a central plank of our national economy and we need to make sure viable farmers have the chance to both prepare for and then survive droughts.

“Farmers still have to work and live during a drought, and some have to work harder feeding stock and carting water than they do in a good season. The problem is they don’t get paid.

“There are assistance measures available to farmers now that are not confined to drought and do not require a drought declaration to be accessed.

“I want to hear how this is working on-farm. I want to work with farmers and others with a stake in a strong agricultural sector, to make sure the support available matches the need.

“I’m pleased to see the work of my state government colleagues in responding to the needs of farming families and I’m keen to keep working with them so that our farmers can continue to make a strong contribution to Australia’s economy and food security.

On Saturday, Minister Joyce is travelling from St George through Dirranbandi to Lightning Ridge. On Sunday, Minister Joyce will be accompanied by Member for Parkes, Mark Coulton, and meet on-farm with producers from the Walgett, Coonamble and Baradine areas, as well as with local government representatives.

Minister for Human Services Senator the Hon Marise Payne said farmers and their families will be able to access specialist face-to-face government services in St George on Saturday. 

“The Department of Human Services Mobile Service Centre, ‘Desert Pea’, is at the Civic Centre on Victoria Street, from 9 am to 2pm, to provide farmers with information and access to government payments and services,” Minister Payne said.

“Many farmers are doing it tough and the service centre’s experienced staff can help farmers access assistance payments.’’

The centre travels to rural and regional communities and farmers can access Centrelink, Medicare, Child Support and Australian Hearing services on board. 

The Rural Financial Counselling Service is available to farmers across Australia, including the areas Minister Joyce is visiting and counsellors will be attending the meetings.

For more information about current farmer support measures go to: http://www.daff.gov.au/agriculture-food/drought/assistance

For more information about the Australian Government Mobile Service Centre and trip schedules for 2014, go to humanservices.gov.au or call 13 2316.