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Walgett and Coonamble farmers receive interim federal drought relief.



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BACK Home | Media Releases AFFA02/328WT - 21 November 2002

Walgett and Coonamble farmers receive interim Federal drought relief

Nearly 1,800 farm families in the drought-affected areas of Walgett and Coonamble in north-western NSW have become eligible to apply to Centrelink for Commonwealth income support payments, Federal Agriculture Minister Warren Truss announced today.

Mr Truss said he is satisfied that a prima facie case has been made for drought Exceptional Circumstances (EC) assistance for the Walgett/Coonamble Rural Lands Protection Board (RLPB) in far western NSW and the application has been sent to the National Rural Advisory Council (NRAC) for full assessment.

The application covers all of the Walgett RLPB, Divisions A, B, D and part of Division C in Coonamble, Division A and part of Division B in Narrabri, and part of Coonabarabran. A full description, including boundary details, is attached.

Following recent decisions by the Federal Government to speed up the EC arrangements, the referral to the NRAC triggers the early payment of income assistance. The payments will be made for six months if the application is rejected and two years if the application is approved by NRAC.

The NSW Government lodged the Walgett/Coonamble EC application with the Commonwealth last week, along with applications for the Western Division and Grafton/Kempsey RLPBs. The Bourke/Brewarrina regions in the State's northwest were EC-declared last week after receiving interim assistance backdated to September 19.

Mr Truss said producers in the affected areas have received little rainfall since August 2001, and what has fallen has proven unsuitable for effective crop and pasture growth.

"Additional information is now being sought from the NSW Government to ensure the NRAC can make a quick and thorough assessment of the EC applications," Mr Truss said.

"I urge the NSW Government officials to provide that information as soon as possible. The application has demonstrated a prima face case for EC and it will cause further hardship to farm families already doing it tough if it is ultimately rejected because NSW cannot provide necessary information."

Mr Truss reminded the States at last month's Primary Industries Ministerial Council meeting that, as well as identifying a particular area as 'drought-declared', they must also demonstrate they have provided the affected farmers with substantial support.

"NSW Agriculture Minister Richard Amery has not yet provided any details of the cost to NSW of drought assistance in the three application areas. However, he has given details of measures announced by the NSW Government which have the potential to provide worthwhile assistance to needy farmers."

Application forms for interim income assistance are available from local Centrelink offices or by calling 1800 050 585.

Walgett/Coonamble

All of the Walgett RLPB, Divisions A, B, D and part of Division C in Coonamble, Division A and part of Division B in Narrabri, and part of Coonabarabran.

Coonamble: Divisions A, B, D and part of Division C - including that part of the Coonamble RLPB north and east of a line commencing with the intersection of the southern RLPB boundary and the Gulargambone to Quambone Road at Gulargambone, then by that road north-west to a road running south-west through the property "Glenanaar" and the property "Mayfield", to the western boundary of the RLPB at Marthaguy Creek.

Narrabri: Division A and that part of Division B south of the road from Wee Waa to Burren Junction.

Coonabarabran: north and west of a line formed by the northern boundary of the RLPB with the Newell Highway and by that highway south to Number One Break Road west to Cumbil Road, south to the Baradine-Gwabegar Road, through Baradine to the Gulargambone-Baradine Road, south-west to a road approximately 2.3 kilometres west of Goorianawa Gap, south to Box Ridge Road and then west by that road to the western boundary of the RLPB.

 

Further media inquiries: Minister Truss' office: Tim Langmead (02) 6277 7520 or 0418 221 433     http://www.affa.gov.au/ministers/truss/releases/02/02328wt.html   

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