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Shadow Agriculture Minister Joel Fitzgibbon criticises federal drought assistance

Emma Brown, Tuesday August 26, 2014 - 07:26 EST

The Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Joel Fitzgibbon has criticised the Federal Government's drought assistance measures, saying not enough is being done for what is a vital Australian industry.

Joel Fitzgibbon says the drought is still affecting many farming businesses and regions and the Federal Government is using the 'Budget crisis' as an excuse not to act.

He says there has always been income support for farming families affected by drought and the concessional loans scheme is not working effectively.

"Well, for me it's about bipartisanship and I've extended a hand to Barnaby Joyce and to the Prime Minister. I've indicated that the Labor Party stands ready to support any initiative to support any initiatives it might take to address what is a very severe drought," Mr Fitzgibbon said.

"You can't just keep saying we'd love to do these things if only we had the money. The Commonwealth is still raising well over $400 billion every year, it's about making your commitment to priorities and agriculture should be an absolute priority.

"We stand ready to talk to the Government about what more can be done, but they, of course, keep framing this Budget emergency as an excuse to do very little."

Federal Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce previously told the ABC he would be seeking more money for additional drought support but said it would potentially come at the expense of other agricultural programs.

When asked where additional money for drought support could be sourced from, the Shadow Minister's answer was simple.

"Gee, paid parental leave would be a good start, wouldn't it?"


© ABC 2014

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