The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien said today’s announcement of additional drought support for Wellington and East Gippsland farmers was underwhelming.
Mr O’Brien said that it was a disappointment that at last the Premier had visited, more than 12 months after his government had acknowledged drought in the region, but he still was not listening to what farmers are calling for.
“The Nationals, the Victorian Farmers Federation and local farmers have been consistently arguing for relief from council rates as the most equitable support that the state government could provide.
“The fact the Premier didn’t bring that support today shows he’s not listening and is not understanding the needs of our farmers.
“The other measures announced are largely a continuation of previous measures which, while useful, do not address the needs that our farmers have been highlighting.
“It is amazing that the Minister for Agriculture says this responds to what she’s hearing from farmers – she clearly must be listening to different farmers than I am because the view is pretty consistent that rate relief would be the best thing the state government could do.
“To tell local media this morning that it’s “not appropriate” for the state government to deliver rate relief because it’s a “council matter” flies in the face of the fact that Labor did exactly this in drought conditions 10 years ago.”
Mr O’Brien said he’s been travelling the region and keeping in touch with local farmers and while some parts of Wellington Shire were looking better than this time last year, the current warm weather and long range forecast do not look good.
“Certainly we’ve got some green, albeit much of it being cape weed, but the lack of sub-soil moisture is a concern if we don’t get rain in the next few weeks.
“I’ll continue to work with local farmers and my federal colleague Darren Chester to try and advocate for better support for our local farmers and businesses.”