House debates

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Statements by Members

Drought Assistance

1:54 pm

Photo of Joel FitzgibbonJoel Fitzgibbon (Hunter, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Agriculture) Share this | | Hansard source

We just heard from two Tasmanian members, neither of whom made one mention of struggling Tasmanian farmers. You know as well as anyone in this place, farmers around the country are struggling. They are inflicted by drought, and many are burdened by significant debt. Today, I ask the government to do just three things: firstly, to acknowledge that its drought response is not working and is not serving the needs of farming families; secondly, to commit to restoring the $40 million that was not spent before 30 June under their drought package—I want them to carry that over to the next financial year; and thirdly, to give back to Tasmanians, South Australians and Western Australians the tens of millions of dollars the government took out of the Farm Finance Concessional Loans Scheme in those places.

The concessional loan scheme was not a drought package per se, although many farmers are burdened by debt because of drought. It was a debt relief package. Tasmanian farmers are suffering a burden of debt but Joe Hockey and Minister Joyce have told them that they are less worthy of these loans than other people in other states. It is about time that the member for Lyons, the member for Braddon and indeed the member for Bass—who is not here at the moment—stood up for Tasmanian farmers and demanded that Barnaby Joyce, Joe Hockey and the Prime Minister restore the money they have stolen from Tasmanian farmers (Time expired)