The Andrews Government’s decision to refuse council rate relief for struggling farmers while offering doctors, lawyers and public servants drought aid is an insult to farming families.
In a weak performance at Parliament’s Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC), Minister for Agriculture Jaclyn Symes couldn’t even say how much of Labor’s drought assistance was actually going to Victorian farmers.
As farmers considered selling up under the pressure of drought, parts of Labor’s drought package were made available to highly-paid professionals like doctors, lawyers and public servants.
In Gippsland, $8.45 million the Government claimed would support farming families to pay for school books, uniforms and kindergarten fees was made available to every single family with children in East Gippsland and Wellington shires.
At the same time, Daniel Andrews continues to ignore calls from farmers for fair and equitable council rates relief.
For a family with two school age children and a child in kindergarten they could receive over $3000. Meanwhile a Gippsland farmer without children or with adult children can access only $2500.
Our farmers deserve better than the appalling treatment they are getting from Daniel Andrews.
It was also alarming during the PAEC hearing that the Agriculture Minister failed to quash fears of Labor’s hidden budget cuts, after nearly $50 million was slashed from agriculture in the State Budget, and she seemed unsure whether there would be job cuts as a result.