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PM defends tweet suggesting drought is 'necessary evil' to cut bottom 10pc of farmers

By National Regional Reporting Team's Anna Henderson, Thursday September 13, 2018 - 07:02 EST
ABC image
Scott Morrison says the video calling the drought a "necessary evil" is another perspective on the drought. - ABC
ABC image
Scott Morrison says the video calling the drought a "necessary evil" is another perspective on the drought. - ABC

Labor has demanded an explanation from the Prime Minister, after he authorised and tweeted a feedlot operator's suggestion that drought could be considered a "necessary evil" that helps "cut out the bottom 10 per cent" of farmers.

Mr Morrison tweeted the video from his Prime Ministerial Twitter account last night beneath the caption "another perspective on the drought".

The video included comments from Michael MacCue, from the Wilga Feedlot at Bellata in the North West region of New South Wales.

"In a way a drought's a necessary evil. It can help cut out the bottom 10 per cent that probably shouldn't be there anyway," Mr MacCue said.

At the end of the short film, which focused on drought preparedness, an authorisation was provided confirming the video was made on behalf of "S. Morrison, Liberal Party, Canberra".

Shadow agriculture minister Joel Fitzgibbon told Parliament such a comment would not have been promoted by former Coalition prime ministers Malcolm Turnbull or Tony Abbott.

"Why is it that at the same time Australians are making an extraordinary effort to help our farmers in drought, the Prime Minister is promoting material that dismisses those farmers hurting most?" Mr Fitzgibbon asked the Prime Minister.

Initially Mr Morrison said the "matter" was of "no recollection" to him and he would be "pleased" if Mr Fitzgibbon provided him with the details.

"I'll be happy to review it," Mr Morrison said.

After Question Time the Prime Minister returned to the Lower House chamber to provide a further update.

"What the post refers to is comments from operators from the north-west of NSW, Michael and Sandy, who are explaining what the drought means for them," Mr Morrison said.

"The way our Government is responding to the drought is to go out there and listen to what people in rural and regional communities are saying to us.

"I'm going to listen to their views, not censor them."

He said Labor, which he described as the "red red party" might want to "close their ears to the voices of the bush, but the Liberal-National Government never will".

Also during Question Time, Agriculture Minister David Littleproud made comments about the importance of Government assistance, equivalent to the unemployment benefit, for farmers struggling to pay their bills due to drought pressures.


© ABC 2018

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