Drought pol­icy for re-think

A new PM, a new fo­cus

Central and North Rural Weekly - - FEDERAL POLITICS - Natalie Kot­sios news@ru­ral­weekly.com.au

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

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.

PHOTO: FILE

DROUGHT FO­CUS: Prime Min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son says drought and agri­cul­ture will be a pri­or­ity.

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