Cash help for farm­ers

Shepparton News - Country News - - NEWS -

More help could be on the way for des­per­ate farm­ers af­ter the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment an­nounced drought-af­fected house­holds would be given cash pay­ments of up to $12 000.

Large swathes of eastern Aus­tralia are in one of the worst droughts of the past 100 years, prompt­ing the gov­ern­ment to an­nounce a $190 mil­lion re­lief pack­age.

Pro­duc­ers el­i­gi­ble for the Farm House­hold Al­lowance will be given re­lief of up to $12 000 for cou­ples and $7200 for sin­gles.

It will be split into pay­ments in Septem­ber and an­other in March.

Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull sig­nalled there would be more sup­port to come, with no sign of rain break­ing the dev­as­tat­ing dry spell.

He said on Mon­day the lat­est cash, and money raised through ap­peals, would sup­port whole com­mu­ni­ties.

‘‘It is go­ing to help fam­i­lies in need and it helps the farm­ers but it also goes into the lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties, into the shops and the busi­nesses in the town,’’ he said.

About 19 000 farm­ers who could be el­i­gi­ble for the al­lowance are yet to sign up.

Mr Turn­bull urged farm­ers to use the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s Ru­ral Fi­nan­cial Coun­selling Ser­vice to check whether they could ac­cess the pay­ment.

The Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment has now spent $576 mil­lion on re­lief for this drought.

La­bor’s agri­cul­ture spokesman Joel Fitzgib­bon said the pack­age was late, but agreed to sup­port it.

He wants a mean­ing­ful re­sponse to cli­mate change.

‘‘Farm­ers are do­ing their best to adapt to a chang­ing cli­mate, but gov­ern­ment has a role to play too and it has been com­pletely miss­ing in ac­tion,’’ he said on Sun­day.

Some ho­tels are join­ing the ‘Parma for a Farmer’ fundrais­ing pro­gram, which do­nates $1 for ev­ery parmi­giana meal sold. They in­clude Shep­par­ton’s Vic­to­ria Ho­tel, the Pep­per­mill Inn at Kialla, Rochester’s Sham­rock Ho­tel, The Deck in Shep­par­ton, Echuca’s Sham­rock Ho­tel and 1895 the Royal, in Echuca. ■ Farm­ers help­ing farm­ers, see our re­port on page 8.

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