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Fitzgibbon fears Prime Minister 'misled' farmers

Craig Zonca, Monday February 10, 2014 - 10:39 EDT

Federal shadow agriculture minister Joel Fitzgibbon fears the Prime Minister has 'misled' farmers over his comments to fast-track a new income-support package.

Mr Fitzgibbon says the Prime Minister Tony Abbott's pledge to bring forward the July start date of the Farm Household Allowance (FHA) scheme will offer only marginal help to drought-affected producers.

"I was very disappointed in the Prime Minister yesterday suggesting that things will improve by bringing the July 1 payment forward.

"The reality is there's very little difference between the July 1 payment and the transitional payment," he said.

The ABC understands the FHA will have a substantially more generous assets test than the currently available Transitional Farm Family Payment.

Both are paid at the Newstart rate of up to $448.70 per person per fortnight.

Mr Fitzgibbon says the Coalition Government has failed to follow through on the work of the previous Labor administration in drought policy reform.

However, he's willing to offer bipartisan support to increase current drought assistance.

"This is where Barnaby Joyce and I are in complete agreement.

"Preparing for drought is one thing but there are some events, like the one we seem to be facing now, which you can't plan for.

"We need to recognise this is an extreme event and do something about it," he said.

Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce is working on a cabinet submission to increase drought support but is remaining tight lipped on the proposal.


© ABC 2014

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