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Monday, 30 November 2015
Page: 14045

Mr PASIN (Barker) (13:34): Mr Deputy Speaker, drought has gripped my electorate of Barker—a phenomenon which I know that your own electorate of Maranoa knows much too much about. We are now experiencing a one-in-100-year rainfall deficiency in Barker over the last 24 months. The federal government acknowledges the severity of drought not only in South Australia but across the country and we have implemented drought concessional loans—a scheme that will help farmers in this difficult time. The scheme is, of course, in addition to our obligations under the Intergovernmental Agreement on National Drought Program Reform between the federal government and each state and territory.

Under the agreement the federal government is responsible for providing the funding, while states and territories are responsible for delivering the programs. The guidelines for assessing applications under the scheme were developed by the federal government and are consistent across jurisdictions. Given that, you might ask why authorities in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria have approved 74 per cent, 58 per cent and 61 per cent respectively of applications, while those under the control of Minister Bignell has seen fit to approve a meagre 14 per cent—meaning that, from a total of $180 million being pumped out of the economy to help drought affected farmers, only $1.6 million has made it to South Australia. That is less than one per cent, and it is really disappointing. Mr Bignell was in my community last week playing cheap politics. What he needs to do is to face up to his responsibilities and deal with his department.