GEORGE WELCOMES NSW LIBERAL/NATIONAL COALITION DROUGHT POLICY

George Welcomes Nsw Liberal/National Coalition Drought Policy

GEORGE WELCOMES NSW LIBERAL/NATIONAL COALITION DROUGHT POLICY

3 February 2003

Nationals' Member for Lismore, Thomas George today welcomed the NSW Liberal/National Coalition's drought policy, which will deliver a significantly better deal to drought-stricken farmers and their communities.

Mr George said drought conditions in the Lismore Electorate were causing severe financial hardship to farmers, small businesses and their communities.

"The centrepiece of today's announcement is an immediate injection of $50 million to combat the worsening drought conditions across NSW, if the NSW Liberal / National Coalition is elected next month," Mr George said.

"I am pleased the Coalition has responded to the concerns of farmers and communities about what is required to ease the hardships that people are experiencing in (electorate name).

"Sydney Labor has tried to use the drought to gain maximum publicity without delivering any real substance to those most in need."

Mr George said Labor had failed to recognise the severity of the drought in New South Wales. The drought is costing jobs and causing widespread heartache among our local communities.

"The Nationals will act immediately to increase and improve the assistance measures reaching farmers and rural communities. We will also help farmers better prepare for future droughts."

Mr George said key elements of the package included: Allocating an extra $50 million in the 2002/03 financial year for immediate drought assistance measures, including cash grants for drought stricken farmers in Exceptional Circumstances (EC) or in areas where EC applications have been lodged, assistance for intensive industries, retention of skilled workers, assistance for OJD affected producers in EC declared regions and other measures for rural dependent small businesses;
Developing a clear definition of drought and a simple, consistent method of determining whether or not a drought exists;
Retaining and strengthening existing transaction-based subsidies by introducing a new road transport subsidy to help retain the State's core breeding stock;
Abolishing the six-month waiting period on transport subsidies;
Immediately committing NSW to the Federal Government's Exceptional Circumstances (EC) system reforms, which include cash grants of up to $60,000;
Establishing a permanent Drought and Agricultural Emergency Unit within NSW Agriculture, to manage Government response to drought and other natural disasters, such as floods, fires, frosts, and storms. Mr George said all existing drought assistance measures, including payroll tax relief, would be continued.

"Labor has allocated just $17 million in direct assistance to farmers, which is plainly not enough. That is why a Coalition Government will immediately boost drought assistance measures by $50 million," Mr George said.

Lismore Contact Details:

Office: 55 Carrington Street  LISMORE
Postal: PO Box 52  LISMORE  NSW  2480
Telephone: 02 6621 3624
Facsimile: 02 6622 1403
Email: lismore@parliament.nsw.gov.au

Murwillumbah Contact Details:

Telephone: 02 6672 7577