We’re listening: Joyce and Hockey hit the road
11 September 2014
The Hon. Barnaby Joyce MP
Minister for Agriculture
The Hon. Joe Hockey MP
Treasurer, Joe Hockey, and Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, travelled to northern New South Wales and Queensland today to hear direct from farmers and rural communities about their experiences.
The visit included stops at Walgett, NSW and Charleville, QLD, to hear from farmers about the impacts of drought on them, their families and their businesses.
In February, the Coalition Government announced the $320 million Drought Support Package on top of the extra assistance for farmers that was announced in November 2013.
The Commonwealth is currently rolling out a range of measures including Drought Concessional Loans, Farm Finance Concessional Loans, Farm Household Allowance, pest management funding, water infrastructure funding and social support measures.
While we are delivering a significant support package for both drought affected farmers and those facing financial hardship, we are also committed to ensuring that all of our measures reach those in need.
Today isn't about us telling people what we are doing however.
It's important to get out to the bush and visit farms to meet directly with some of our dedicated and hardworking farmers.
It's about listening to farming families and their communities about how we can adjust current programmes or consider other measures to assist those facing a record 1 in 100 year drought event.
Walgett is a hub for our wool, wheat and cotton industries and Charleville is known for sheep and cattle farming.
The farmers we met today in these communities are facing a drought challenge on a scale we haven't witnessed before.
Our message today to drought affected communities is that we are listening and we're committed to working with them to ensure they have a sustainable future.
The Coalition Government is committed to creating a strong and profitable agriculture sector for the 21st Century where all our farmers can prosper. Since coming to office we have also worked to improve farm viability through expanded market access and through free trade deals with Korea, Japan and are currently negotiating one with China.
We remind farmers that there is still a range of support measures available now for farmers in need who are doing it tough.
The Australian Government encourages farmers to talk to the experts at Centrelink or the Rural Financial Counselling Service and find out about the support options available–there’s help available with the forms too.
For more information: www.agriculture.gov.au/assistance or call the Farmer Assistance Hotline 132 316 (Monday to Friday, 8 am to 8 pm local time)