Minister clueless on promised drought cash grants
Wednesday 6 March 2019
Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes failed to give even basic details on how the State’s Drought Hardship Support will roll out when questioned in State Parliament today.
The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria, Melina Bath questioned Minister Symes after being inundated with calls from Gippsland farmers who are trying to access the relief funds.
Farmers contacting Agriculture Victoria are being told to lodge expressions of interest; that details for the hardship package were “still being worked out”; and relief payments “would not be quick.”
On 22 February 2019 Minister Symes stood in Gippsland and promised drought stricken farmers would be able to access ‘immediate relief’ through her scheme.
Comments from Peter Walsh, Shadow Minister for Agriculture
"Victorian farmers are in the midst of catastrophic drought conditions and they need immediate financial support, not Ministers doing publicity stunts.
“Farmers have already criticised the Victorian Government drought package as being grossly inadequate and a token gesture because it fails to provide shire rates relief everyone is asking for.
“Now the Andrews Government is adding further insult by bungling the delivery of the relief payments and that’s just not good enough when farmers are in crisis.
“Farmers are desperate and Minister Symes simply must do better.
Comment from Melina Bath, Member for Eastern Victoria Region
“Only today a Gippsland farmer sought my help on how to hold on to his last 80 beef calves as he can no longer afford to purchase hay.”
“Farmers are desperately trying to hang on and Minister Symes promised immediate access to cash grants, it is insulting that they are told to register and wait.”
“The State’s response was already a long way short of farmers’ expectations but being told they need to wait even longer outrageous.