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Monday, 22 September 2014
Page: 9955


Mr FITZGIBBON (Hunter) (13:54): Another week has passed and still our desperate farming families are not getting the drought assistance they so desperately need. Throughout February of this year drought was on the front pages of all of our newspapers and you could not turn on morning television without hearing a story about a drought affected family and a fundraising campaign for drought affected farmers.

The Prime Minister went on a drought tour with the Minister for Agriculture and subsequently they announced a drought package—a drought package we welcomed and extended a bipartisan hand for. The Prime Minister's tour stopped the publicity and was a great political circuit breaker for him and for the government. The problem is that the money they announced is not being delivered to the farming families who so desperately need it.

We have had another drought tour since that tour, and this time it was the agriculture minister and the Treasurer. Still, there is no additional assistance, no reshaping of the government's drought policy and no reshaping of the government's drought plan. Tomorrow there is a round table. I do not have any problem with a round table. The usual suspects will be there—the banks, certain rural groups and, I suppose, members of organisations like the NFF—but the time for talking is done. The money is there. I just simply ask the government to start spending it.