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Tasmania still says no deal on Farm Finance

Jane Ryan, Saturday December 7, 2013 - 16:44 EDT
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Leafy vegetable crop in Tasmania - ABC

Tasmania is the only state yet to sign up for the federal Farm Finance package.

The Coalition Government halved the $30 million originally offered to Tasmania by the previous Labor government and redistributed the extra funds to other states.

South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern territory signed up to the scheme this week, joining the other mainland states.

Tasmanian Minister for Agriculture Bryan Green says he won't make a decision on whether to sign up to the deal until he speaks with his federal counterpart Barnaby Joyce this week.

"They say they did it on compassionate grounds because there is a drought in southern Queensland and northern New South Wales," he said.

"Look, I understand the farmers there might be in a predicament, but if the Liberal Coalition is as country-based as they reckon it is, you would expect that they would find funds to assist those people, instead of taking them away from Tasmania."

Mr Green says the full amount should be allocated, so it can be invested in drought-proofing the agricultural sector.

"We are a sovereign state, and we are entitled to an equitable arrangement when it comes to these issues," he said..

"We could be in a position to utilise these funds in a better way to continue to droughtproof the state on an ongoing basis, that is, for loans to be provided to develop land that is part of irrigation."

The funding has been allocated in other states to be used as drought-associated debt relief, through low-interest loans, not for infrastructure.

But Mr Green wants to see it used differently in Tasmania.

"The Farm Finance Package that we're talking about now would be going to people who have been struggling - not necessarily as a result of - for various reasons - not necessarily drought as it exists in our state at this time," he said.

"So what we continue to say to the (Federal) Government is that we do have people here who need to avail themselves of the rest of those funds to ensure Tasmania is in a better position going forward."

Mr Green will speak with the Federal Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce this week.


© ABC 2013

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