Riverina farmers will benefit from the federal government’s extended drought aid package, according to Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack.
Mr McCormack, the Member for Riverina, joined with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at Trangie on Sunday to announce a $190 million immediate-relief package, taking the total federal drought aid to $576m.
“The package will benefit farmers in the Riverina because changes to the Farm Household Allowance will enable two lump-sum supplementary payments, one to be paid in September and the follow-up one in March.
“For a couple it’s two lump sums totalling $12,000 and for a single they will get up to $7200
“We have also increased the Farm Household Allowance threshold from $2.6m to $5m; we accept that many farmers are asset rich but cash poor.”
Last month the NSW state government almost doubled its drought aid to more than $1 billion, with an emphasis on subsidies for livestock feed and water freight costs.
Mr McCormack said there was an additional $5m for rural financial counselling.
“People will be able to get an expert around their kitchen table with them to discuss how best to work their finances and drought-proof their farms for the future,” he said,
“We have also provided $15m to an organisation called the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal, and that will go out in small grants for non-for-profit groups and locally driven support.
“With these things, some of the best support is given by well-meaning and well-intentioned community people on the ground.”
Mr McCormack said he was, in his role as deputy prime minister, in ongoing talks with Mr Turnbull about the government’s response to drought.