FEDERAL Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce has welcomed a further Budget boost to communities hit by the drought, taking the total value of measures available in this year’s budget to more than $400 million.
In addition to the $333 million announced at the weekend, the Commonwealth will provide $70 million to assist primary producers claim accelerated depreciation for water facilities, fodder storage and fencing from 1 July 2016.
“Drought is part of the landscape in the New England Electorate and whilst some areas continue to battle severe conditions, as a nation we must better prepare for drought in the long term,” Mr Joyce said.
“The accelerated depreciation measures as well as the immediate response package announced at the weekend by the Prime Minister are vital and welcome.
“This is a practical package that funds shovel ready projects, helps with feral animals, expands community support, and provides more financial counsellors and further drought concessional loans.
“Droughts don’t last forever – so we need to keep as many people in jobs and families on properties while it continues.
“This assistance is as much an investment in our region’s future as it is support for us today.
“This is about local jobs, local spending and keeping our towns and communities going through these tough times.”
Mr Joyce said the $70 million in depreciation measures was in addition to other measures already announced as part of the Budget:
• $35 million for shovel-ready, local infrastructure and employment projects;
• $25 million to manage pest animals and weeds in drought-affected areas;
• $20 million to expand existing social and community support programmes;
• $1.8 million for additional rural financial counsellors in drought-affected areas, and
• $250 million in 2015–16 to continue access to existing drought specific concessional loans schemes.
“This assistance builds on the existing Commonwealth support to farmers experiencing hardship which is currently flowing to over 4,800 farmers or their partners,” Mr Joyce said.
He said further measures will be announced in the forthcoming Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper.
For information on the new drought support measures go to www.agriculture.gov.au/drought