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More business support needed for drought areas

The Andrews Labor Government’s drought support package is a starting point, but should go further to support farmers and small businesses that are under severe financial strain.

Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Peter Walsh, said for many farmers in the southern Mallee and Wimmera this was the second or third year of failed crops.

Mr Walsh said the Andrews Labor Government should provide greater support to businesses, including discounts to municipal rates and fixed water charges.

“The government’s package is a first step, but it does not include any business support for farms and small businesses affected by drought, and some of the programs are re-announcements,” Mr Walsh said.

“It is not just farmers who struggle in a drought, local businesses are also impacted by the lack of spending in the town.

“In the last drought, farmers were offered discounts on their municipal rates and fixed water charges and it would be beneficial if Daniel Andrews included similar rate relief programs in this support package.”

Mr Walsh said there was around $20 million left from the Wimmera-Mallee Pipeline, which was completed under budget, which could be used to fund water projects in drought-affected areas.

“These water projects need to get started immediately so they benefit drought-affected farmers as soon as possible,” Mr Walsh said.