News

PM blames climate

By Country News

Malcolm Turnbull says climate change helps cause droughts, dismissing suggestions for Australia to abandon global emissions reduction targets because they won’t immediately help farmers.

The prime minister also defended the Federal Government’s $190million drought relief package, which has been labelled ‘‘too little, too late’’ by critics.

Mr Turnbull has owned a sheep and cattle farm in the NSW Upper Hunter with his wife Lucy since 1982 and believes this is the worst dry spell he’s seen.

‘‘I think everyone agrees that we’re seeing rainfall that is, if you like, more erratic, droughts that are more frequent and seasons that are hotter,’’ he said.

He reaffirmed Australia’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions after former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce said the government’s action would do nothing to stop droughts.

‘‘If everybody took the view that they weren’t going to do anything because their contribution doesn’t make much difference, then nothing would happen,’’ Mr Turnbull said.

‘‘It’s a global effort.’’

Mr Joyce, whose NSW electorate of New England has been badly affected by drought, believes reducing emissions in Australia won’t change the climate.

‘‘Any policy we do, it’s more of a sense of a commitment to a wider purpose,’’ he said.

‘‘It will have no difference on the climate whatsoever — zero, zip, nothing.’’

The government is giving eligible farmers cash payments of up to $12000 in two instalments.

Drought-awareness campaigner Edwina Robertson says the money isn’t enough.

‘‘Everyone is saying it’s too little, too late,’’ she said.

But Mr Turnbull said the package was a supplement to the Farm Household Allowance, a fortnightly payment for eligible farmers totalling about $16000 a year.

‘‘It is designed to keep body and soul together, not designed to pay for fodder,’’ the prime minister said.