Media Release

Drought funds already helping farming families

18 June 2014

Farming families across Australia are already benefiting from the Coalition Government's national drought assistance including more than 1,400 farming families receiving the Interim Farm Household Allowance.

Responding to concerns about the rollout of drought assistance, Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said the Coalition Government is delivering a $320 million national drought package including $280 million in drought concessional loans, $12 million for emergency water infrastructure, $10 million for animal pest management for drought affected areas and $10.7 million for social and mental health support for communities.

This is in addition to last November’s announcement where the Government re-allocated Farm Finance funds to areas in need and provided $10 million in emergency water infrastructure grants.

During Question Time today Mr Joyce said the next tranche of drought relief in the form of concessional loans for Queensland was already being rolled out by the Queensland Rural Adjustment Authority (QRAA).

"The fact is that applications for drought concessional loans are available in Queensland, will open imminently in New South Wales, with other states and the Northern Territory to follow."

"Labor criticism of the roll-out is unfounded," Minister Joyce said.

"We are getting the payments out because we are the side that can get the work done," Minister Joyce told Parliament today. "You are the side that talk about it, we are the side that do it."

Minister Joyce said Farm Finance concessional loans for 2013-14 had been well subscribed in the drought affected states of Queensland and New South Wales and the 2014-15 round – another $210 million – will become available to all states and the Northern Territory in the next financial year.

"While it is disappointing that Mr Fitzgibbon is playing politics with the drought, his ill-informed statements in parliament today merely confirms what we knew all along – that he has no idea about the challenges facing our farmers and can’t be trusted with the future of Australian agriculture," Minister Joyce said.