House debates

Thursday, 24 October 2019

Questions without Notice


2:04 pm

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

My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development. Does the Deputy Prime Minister endorse the drought plan leaked by the Nationals backbench as government policy—a plan which includes regional funding?

2:05 pm

Photo of Michael McCormackMichael McCormack (Riverina, National Party, Leader of the Nationals) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Hunter for his question. The National Party always comes up with a range of policies because we care about regional people. We care about rural people and those who live in country, coastal and remote Australia. They're doing it tough at the moment. Regional people in those drought-stricken communities are doing it very tough at the moment, and that's why I'm delighted I'm part of a government which is helping them with changes to the farm household allowance—taking it from three years, which was Labor's policy, to four years in every 10.

An incident having occurred in the gallery—

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The Deputy Prime Minister has the call.

Photo of Michael McCormackMichael McCormack (Riverina, National Party, Leader of the Nationals) Share this | | Hansard source

I thought it was my National Party colleagues cheering me on! Indeed—look at them—they are! The National Party is coming up with the policies for rural and regional Australia. We are absolutely making sure that we're committed to helping those drought-stricken farmers.

At the end of the day, it's all about delivery on the ground for those communities. It's not about who gets the credit in this place; it's about actual delivery on the ground, like 122 councils receiving $1 million of support so that they upgrade their memorial hall. The other day I was in Weddin Shire in Grenfell, seeing new horse stables and new horse stalls built at the local showground. Councils can ensure that the local rugby league field has water. At the moment, the rugby field is as hard as this dispatch box. Next year, thanks to that $1 million drought communities support program, it's going to be as green as the leather on the chairs that we're all sitting on, and that's a great thing. These drought-stricken communities want to see us talking about them, not about each other.