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Drought relief assistance to New South Wales



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FOR MEDIA MONDAY 10 NOVEMBER 1980

. DROUGHT RELIEF

ASSISTANCE TO NEW SOUTH WALES

The Commonwealth Government has agreed to further measures to assist drought stricken primary producers and country people in New South Wales. '

The Prime Minister said that the Commonwealth had agreed that the limit on carry-on advances should be doubled to $40,000. However this agreement was on the basis that eligibility should not be subject to the restricted conditions proposed by the Premier of NSW. Mr. Wran had proposed a 12 month constraint on primary producers before they were eligible to make a further

application for additional carry-on finance. ·

The Prime Minister said that his colleague the Minister for Primary Industry, Mr. Peter Nixon had reported, to him on the outcome of a visit to Bourke and Moree. Mr. Nixon had informed the Prime Minister of the concern expressed by primary producers

at these restrictive conditions. The Commonwealth had therefore decided to make the assistance available on the basis that the proposed restrictions be lifted by the State.

The Nixon also told the Prime Minister of the suggestions he had received, in particular:

. There should be loans of up to $40,000 available . to small business in drought affected areas, on a similar basis to carry-on loans for primary producers. This facility is already available in Western

Australia and Queensland. . .

. Requests were made for freight subsidies for water and fodder cartage to drought affected properties to be increased to 75 per cent.

• . It was also widely considered that there is a need for a subsidy to be provided for the cost of droving stock on stockroutes, as is available in Queensland. Finally it was considered that the current level of

$12,000. for restocking loans will be insufficient when the drought ends and the time for restocking begins. ·

The Prime Minister said that he was most concerned to find that the very real needs of primary producers and businessmen suffering from the effects of drought were not being met by the NSW Government. He went on to say that he had emphasised on

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many occasions the Commonwealth's willingness to consider sympathetically any proposal from the. States which will . benefit those affected by the drought. Mr. Fraser emphasised, that the Commonwealth's record bears this out in the clearest

terms.

The Prime Minister has also received reports, from Mr. Nixon ■ concerning claims of long delays between the. time that a primary producer applies for drought assistance and the time ‘ that he receives approval. He was also informed of an apparently

high ratio of applicants for carry-on finance being, rejected and it was suggested that there is a need to streamline the present arrangements for the evaluation and distribution of drought relief finance. . .

In view of these complaints, which have been confirmed by the National Farmers' Federation, Mr. Fraser suggested that Mr. Wran look closely at his State's administrative procedures in distributing drought relief assistance monies with a view to cutting red tape

in order to speed aid to those country people affected by drought. Relevant Commonwealth officials are available for any discussions that will assist in achieving this objective. .

In conclusion, Mp. Fraser suggested that there would be great advantage in an early meeting between Mr. Nixon and Mr. Wran. The Prime Minister, said that the Minister for Primary Industry was monitoring the drought situation closely and v/as clearly av/are of the problems facing the man on the land. An early meeting with the Premier will certainly be a useful way to ensure that the , State Government is also aware of the difficulties.

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