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Warren Truss unhappy about rain.

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The Hon Tony Burke

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

DAFF08/007B 6 February 2008

Warren Truss unhappy about the rain

The former Agriculture Minister’s claim that the Federal Government had cut drought funding was bizarre, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Tony Burke, said today.

The Minister for Finance and Deregulation, Lindsay Tanner, today made statements about future Government expenditure.

He confirmed that the Government would save millions of dollars on a range of drought measures due to recent rains across Australia.

Mr Truss criticised the moves in a statement today claiming that the measures were hard-hearted and short-sighted.

Mr Burke said it was alarming that Mr Truss, after six years as Agriculture Minister, did not appear to understand drought funding measures.

“I’m not sure which bothers me more - the fact that he’s unhappy about recent rains which have improved crop forecasts across most of the country or that he never understood how his own Budget worked when he was the Minister,” he said.

“For ten years Mr Truss was a senior government Minister who should have been well aware that Government programs are assessed regularly to ensure the expenditure is necessary.

“To do anything else would be irresponsible.

“Thankfully, now that good rainfalls have been received in some parts of Australia, many farmers are looking to a future on the land a bit more optimistically.

“For the benefit of the former Minister - it is a good thing that forecasts indicate that fewer people will seek assistance in future years.

“Perhaps Mr Truss is simply disappointed that the Government today confirmed it would not be providing more than $5million to Flemington Racecourse from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Forests portfolio.

“This funding was one of the many discretionary grants promised by the previous government just prior to the last election being announced.

“Regardless of what Mr Truss thinks, fewer people seeking drought support is a good thing for Australia,” Mr Burke said.

Media contact: Andrew Gordon - 02 6277 7520 or 0419 685 953