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State Opposition slams government's approach to drought support in state's North West

Monday December 9, 2013 - 15:04 EDT
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The state opposition's primary industries spokesman, Steve Whan, has visited drought affected areas of the North West, including Bourke. - ABC

The state opposition has accused the government of using federal drought policy to mask cost cutting measures.

Primary industries spokesman, Steve Whan, has toured drought affected areas in the north west including Lightning Ridge, Brewarrina, Bourke and Moree.

He has criticised the O'Farrell Government's approach to drought support saying it is unfair farmers had to wait for transport and fodder subsidies, when previously they would have been enacted when an area was drought declared.

He says the move toward drought preparedness funding at a national level does not preclude the states from providing assistance.

"At no stage in that process that I was involved in did we say that we would no longer provide things like fodder and stock transport subsidies," he said.

"Yes there was a decision at a federal level they would move away from Exceptional Circumstances support, but it's not in existence yet, it needs to be worked through and all we've seen from this state government is an opportunity to cut costs."

Mr Whan is also concerned the lack of a clear 'drought declaration process' has caused confusion with areas that don't fall within council boundaries.

"One of the problems we have with not having an objective measurement of when an area is in drought is we argue about those things rather than making a decision and rather than actually having assistance start to flow we have a debate going on in the community about the areas that are missing out," he said.

"And I think that's something that needs to be resolved urgently."


© ABC 2013

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