South Coast farmers have been hit by disaster after disaster, however until now the Federal Government has refused to recognise the impact drought had on farmers impacted by the bushfires.
Many local farmers were unable to access the government’s Special Disaster Grant because their on-farm income was reduced from the drought, meaning they didn’t meet the 50 per cent on-farm income threshold.
Federal Member for Gilmore has been pushing the government to change this requirement since the grants were first announced, and while the Morrison Government has finally admitted its mistake, Mrs Phillips has questioned why it took so long.
“Our farmers have been suffering under a drought the government denied they were in for years – but when the bushfires came, many were again left out in the cold by this government,” Fiona Phillips said.
“Farmers have told me how having their requests for help denied felt like another huge blow from a government that had let them down,” she said.
On the same day the Minister made this announcement, he also upheld the decision to reject a local farmer’s application as it did not meet this threshold. In his letter dated 31 July, the NSW Minister for Agriculture stated that the Rural Assistance Authority “has no latitude to change the guidelines or apply leniency when assessing applications.”
“Now we know that all they needed was a small change from the Ministers – so why have local farmers had to fight for it for months?”
“The Morrison Government has once again inflicted unnecessary pain on local farmers because they refused to listen,” Mrs Phillips said.
The government continues to turn its back on local farmers in need.
“I will continue standing with our local farmers to make sure they get the support they deserve,” Fiona Phillips said.
The new guidelines can be found here.