The Labor Government’s Pasture Recovery Grants that will provide $5,000 on a dollar for dollar matching basis for drought affected farmers is ignorant of the current reality that, after three years of drought, few now have a spare $5,000 to benefit from it.
Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, said many farmers are struggling to survive financially and drought relief measures that continue to ignore this state of affairs are a cruel deception.
“I have been saying for many months that the most effective from of drought relief is to subsidise farm rates which will in turn free up money for the specific needs of individual farmers,” said Mr Bull.
“Farmers continue to be made tantalising grant offers that even if they are a priority, are often financially impossible to access.
“In the on-farm forums I convened late last year there was strong agreement that the one subsidy that would assist all farmers and could be equitably provided, was council rate relief (where the State Government pays the rates of farmers to the shires).
“In February this year Minister Symes contributed to expectations of full rate relief by saying in local media it was ‘on the table’.
“A farmer I spoke to last week is spending $2,000 per day on her feed bill.
“The priority is to keep her livestock alive and while pasture renovation is important for the future, it’s not the most pressing need.
“The current cost of full farm rates relief in the East Gippsland Shire is $4.9 million and in Wellington Shire it is $10.1 million.
“The Minister needs to take decisive action to get rates relief back on the agenda and funded in the forthcoming State budget,” said Mr Bull.
Caption: Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, pictured with Gary and Kaye Davidson and Leader of the Opposition, Michael O’Brien at the Davidson’s shearing shed at Walpa during his visit to Gippsland last week to assess drought conditions.