NORTHERN Tablelands MP Adam Marshall has delivered a speech on the floor of State Parliament calling on the Federal Government to rethink its drought assistance strategy of low interest loans and introduce practical assistance such as transport and fodder rebates.
Speaking in the Legislative Assembly late last week, Mr Marshall said the Federal Government had recently announced that it expected to reallocate $100 million in low-interest loans to farmers in the most drought-affected parts of the country.
“This is certainly generous and better than nothing, however I question whether loans and more debt are the answer for the majority,” he told Parliament.
“In my opinion, they definitely are not – more practical help, such as transport rebates, would have a greater, more positive impact and allow landholders to better manage the stock they have without having to take on added debt.
“They want to be able to hang on to their remaining livestock and they tell me that a return to transport rebates for fodder, livestock and water is what is needed most at the moment.
“When farmers are struggling to meet their current debt load due to seasonal conditions, why offer the chance to take on an even bigger burden and sink further into debt?”
Mr Marshall reminded his colleagues about the ongoing dire situation faced by primary producers in the north west of the State, and specifically those in his electorate of Northern Tablelands.
“As the third consecutive spring stumbles towards another parched dive into a summer that threatens to break more heatwave records, farmers and graziers are left to wonder when the rain tap might finally turn on again,” he said.
“With long-range forecasters predicting another bleak outlook, the many calls to my office inquiring about drought assistance are taking on a tone that transcends the desperation felt earlier this year.
“My regional counterparts may recall the struggle and the fight that our communities – first in the Far West and then the North West – fought to secure assistance from NSW Government to ease the impact of the drought.
“The NSW Government listened, and an interim package of support was delivered earlier this year – subsidies for transport to move livestock to better pastures or the processor, and to bring in vital fodder to keep the animals alive until the anticipated spring flush of feed arrived.
“This type of real assistance is required right now to help our primary producers, not more debt.
“I call on the House to support this call for drought assistance in the form of transport subsidies to be made available as part of the current package.
“Maybe then it will rain and, with any luck, this speech will be totally redundant.”
MEDIA: Adam Marshall 0429 440 054 or 02 6772 5552