Nationals call for drought support for regional small businesses


The federal government’s drought relief program should include a helping hand to regional communities so small businesses don’t suffer, according to Nationals MP Darren Chester.

Chester applauded Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s decision to visit drought-stricken Queensland this week in his first official visit in the top job, and said local councils should be given more resources so workers don’t pack up and leave.

“And potentially provide for keeping skilled workers in those communities because small businesses are affected as well,” Chester told the ABC on Sunday.

“Often there is a need for off-farm work during this period of time.”

Farmers will soon feel some relief after drought support legislation cleared parliament last week, providing eligible couples with up to $12,000 and individuals $7200 in two payments on 1 September 2018 and 1March 2019.

The cash injection is a supplement to the Farm Household Allowance, a payment worth about $16,000 a year which farmers can access for a limit of four years.

Head of the National Farmer’s Federation Fiona Simson hopes to speak with the prime minister about water infrastructure and certainty in water supply.

“With many farmers running out of water out on their properties, it is a really contentious issue,” Ms Simson told the ABC.

“Farmers need certainty around some of the things that we do and some of the ways that we use really important natural resources, like water and soils.”