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Brewarrina/Bourke exceptional circumstances application - a test of Howard's word.



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LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

STATEMENT BY THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION THE HON SIMON CREAN MP

BREWARRINA/BOURKE EXCEPTIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES APPLICATION - A TEST OF HOWARD’S WORD

Mr Howard must stand by his word and immediately assess the Exceptional Circumstances drought-relief funding application lodged by the New South Wales Government today.

Last Friday, Mr Howard told radio 3AW that he doesn’t want an argument with State Governments about the drought.

Mr Howard went on to say, “I invite them to put the applications for funding in and I'll consider it immediately."

The NSW Government has lodged an Exceptional Circumstances drought relief application to secure federal funding for the Brewarrina and Bourke districts.

The Brewarrina/Bourke application will be a test of Mr Howard’s commitment to around 400 drought-stricken farm families in those districts.

In early June, Labor’s Senator Kerry O’Brien called on the Howard Government to undertake preparatory work so that upcoming Exceptional Circumstances applications from NSW could be fast-tracked.

But all we have had is months of inaction, indecision and uncertainty from Agriculture Minister Warren Truss.

Mr Howard now appears to have removed control of the Exceptional Circumstances process from the National Party and his inept Agriculture Minister and is taking control of the issue himself.

With Mr Howard personally assessing Exceptional Circumstances applications, Labor and drought-stricken farmers will watch closely to see whether the Prime Minister is true to his word.

CANBERRA 10 September 2002