Walsh calls for more drought relief for farmers

By Rodney Woods

Victorian Shadow Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh is calling on the Andrews Government to follow South Australia's lead and provide more drought funding for struggling farmers.

Mr Walsh accused the government of passing the buck on drought relief and questioned why this Labor government could not do what the Brumby Labor government did in 2008-09.

“South Australia has announced it will provide immediate financial relief with a 50 per cent rebate on council rates or pastoral lease payments in 2019-20 and 2020-21 for farmers eligible for the Farm Household Allowance,” he said.

“In contrast, the Andrews Government claims rates relief is a ‘matter for councils'.

“This is despite the Victorian Government providing 50 per cent subsidies on council rates and relief on fixed water charges for all drought-affected farmers in 2008-09.

“Rates relief is a simple, common sense measure that can be applied fairly to those who need it the most.

“The challenges facing our farmers, including drought and high water prices, don’t stop at the shire boundary.

“Farmers outside the Mildura, East Gippsland and Wellington shires have been excluded from the Andrews Government’s drought package and it’s time to right that wrong.

“South Australia has stepped up to provide the genuine rates relief farmers have been asking for.

“Daniel Andrews must finally put aside his arrogance and do the same.”

In response, a government spokesperson reiterated what they told Country News on December 3, in response to State Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell's calls for rate relief.

“The GMID is facing both difficult seasonal conditions and market challenges,” the spokesperson said.

“As well as targeted support for dairy farmers experiencing high input costs, farmers in the region will be eligible for direct financial assistance through the Farmers’ Drought Fund.”