Australia: Drought top of mind as PM returns to Aust - - PressFrom - Australia

Australia Drought top of mind as PM returns to Aust

19:30  04 november  2019
19:30  04 november  2019 Source:

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A drought or drouth is an event of prolonged shortages in the water supply, whether atmospheric (below-average precipitation), surface water or ground water.

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Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison walks to attend ASEAN Special Lunch on Sustainable Development in Nonthaburi, Thailand, Monday, Nov. 4, 2019.© Associated Press Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison walks to attend ASEAN Special Lunch on Sustainable Development in Nonthaburi, Thailand, Monday, Nov. 4, 2019.

The next steps for the government's drought support will be top of mind for Prime Minister Scott Morrison as he touches down from Thailand.

Mr Morrison is due to land in Canberra on Tuesday morning after being heartened to see what he deemed "respite rain" in parts of central west and northwest NSW.

The Mirrool Creek in the Riverina was also running for the first time in two years.

"We do not set and forget on drought, we continue to step up as things continue to progress in drought-affected areas in the country," the prime minister told reporters in Thailand on Monday.

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Legislation is before parliament to provide lump sum payments of $13,000 for couples and $7500 for singles who reach the end of the four years on the Farm Household Allowance.

Another round of support for drought-affected producers and communities is expected soon.

The government will on Tuesday also begin face-to-face consultations to shape the funding plan for the Future Drought Fund.

It will pay $100 million a year from drought resilience projects from next financial year.

The first of 14 one-and-a-half-hour public events will occur in Queensland's Charters Towers, before eventually wrapping up in NSW's Dubbo later this month.

Pastoralists Association of West Darling president Lachlan Gall is surprised none of the consultations are slated for further west in NSW, such as in Broken Hill.

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That area of the state missed out on rain this week, and instead had strong winds which blew around sand and dust.

"It's frustrating, disappointing and depressing" to be so close, yet so far to the rain, Mr Gall said.

He's also surprised the government has begun public consultations for the fund before releasing the report by drought coordinator general Major General Stephen Day.

One of PAWD's recommendations to Major General Day was to ensure farmers have access to the emergency water infrastructure rebate until the drought is over.

The federal government put $50 million towards it late last year, but Mr Gall understands it's running out.

He has been waiting six weeks to find out if he'll receive the rebate, and was told when applying he could miss out.

Drought assistance applications often took days to fill out, Mr Gall added.

"When we're working seven days a week to keep our core breeding livestock fed and watered, the last thing we need to be doing is spending excessive periods of time filling out paperwork," he said.

A simple way for the public to help is to buy Australian made products when shopping, he added.

Farmers 'won't be able to pay back' govt drought loan .
Sky News host Alan Jones has criticised the latest Morrison government drought stimulus package, saying the farmers won’t “have the money” to pay back their loans. The Morrison Government recently unveiled a multi-billion dollar drought aid package, with the announcement of $1 billion in cheap loans for farmers and small business.“No one in Canberra seems to know that a loan is paid back monthly,” Mr Jones said. Mr Jones said it's a ludicrous proposition for the government to suggest “in two years, the farmer is meant to have money that he doesn't have now”.

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