drought Gippsland farmers | June 20, 2019

The Nationals step up calls for Drought Assistance

The Nationals are continuing to pressure the Andrews Labor Government to provide meaningful drought assistance for Gippsland farmers in State Parliament.

The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath said a number of the state government’s drought assistance programs are scheduled to close in a couple of weeks come June 30.

The Andrews Labor Government’s drought assistance packages commenced in March this year for farmers living in Wellington Shire and East Gippsland.

Ms Bath said ending drought assistance so soon after their introduction when the situation has clearly worsened is ridiculously premature.

“This drought has continued to spread throughout Gippsland impacting many more Gippsland farms in its path.

“We have experienced a surge in Latrobe City farmers seeking drought assistance and my electoral office is now receiving calls from farmers in the Baw Baw Shire pleading not to be forgotten.

“The drought situation has significantly worsened and Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes and her Labor Government must deliver drought assistance on a needs basis, not according to an arbitrary boundary.”

The state government cash grants of $2500 and $3500, Pasture Recovery and Management Grant Program close on 30 June 2019, while On Farm Infrastructure grants state until funding expended as outlined on Agriculture Victoria’s website.

Ms Bath said Minister Symes indicated in response to her questioning she would consider extending the availability of drought assistance.

“It is important that this funding is not just rolled over in Wellington and East Gippsland Shires, but also be made available to all Gippsland farmers in need, regardless of the local government area.”

The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Danny O’Brien said the spread of the drought crisis heightens the need for the State Government to further act.

“I acknowledge the government has placed a small amount of assistance on the table but it could be doing much more.

“The state government should be offering relief from municipal rates charges which The Nationals have been calling for, for many months.

“Rate relief is equitable and supported by the Victorian Farmers Federation and most farmers I speak with.

The Nationals Member for Gippsland East Tim Bull said it would take years for Gippsland’s farmers and their pastures to recover.

“The problem is far more complex and the state government’s approach to drought assistance cannot continue to focus on short-term, band-aid quick fixes,” said Mr Bull.

“If the Premier could navigate his way out of Melbourne and into Gippsland, we would happily show him first hand the devastation this drought has and is continuing to cause right across the region.”

Ms Bath said The Nationals would continue to advocate for fair and equitable drought support for farmers in Gippsland. 

This drought is a slow-moving, long-term natural disaster and the state government assistance must commit to ongoing and meaningful assistance so Gippsland farmers can get back on their feet,” said Ms Bath.

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