Drought policy for re-think
A new PM, a new focus
DEALING with the drought will be incoming Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s “first focus”.
The newly elected Liberal leader said he would meet with national drought coordinator Major-General Stephen Day as soon as possible to review Australia’s drought policies.
“This is our most urgent and pressing need right now,” Mr Morrison said in his first media conference after the leadership ballot.
“I will be meeting with Major-General Day... and working with him and the Nationals and our regional and rural Liberal members to ensure we do what is necessary to help our regional communities, our farmers and all those affected.”
Mr Morrison and his deputy leader Josh Frydenberg remained loyal to outgoing Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to the end. The former treasurer toppled Queensland’s Peter Dutton in the August 24 Liberal party room leadership ballot, 45-40.
Mr Morrison proceeded from the party room ballot into negotiations with the Nationals to form a government.
It’s understood the Nationals wanted an agriculture-specific visa, more cash for dams and the return of the regional development portfolio. The party could also seek the energy portfolio — now vacant as Mr Frydenberg will become Treasurer.
“I look forward to working with (Nationals leader) Michael McCormack and his entire team — we have known each other for a long time and I look forward to a productive relationship with the Nationals,” Mr Morrison said.
Mr Morrison described he and Mr Frydenberg as the “new generation of Liberal leadership”.
Drought support legislation cleared parliament on August 23, providing eligible couples with up to $12,000 and individuals $7200 in two payments on September 1 and March 1.
The new legislation brings the total payment for a couple to around $37,000 and to around $22,000 for singles.
The changes will also lift the FHA net asset threshold cap from $2.6 million to $5 million from September 1.
Currently, 57.4 per cent of Queensland is drought declared, while all but
0.1 per cent of NSW is drought-affected through to severely impacted by drought.
DROUGHT FOCUS: Prime Minister Scott Morrison says drought and agriculture will be a priority.