On Sunday, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced a new $190million package to help struggling farmers in Australia cope with the crippling drought that is plaguing the nation.
Speaking in NSW, he said the Farm Household allowance was increasing by $7,2000 for singles and $12,000 for couples. That said, the money would be handed out in two $6,000 payments. The first would reach farmers in September, while they would need to wait until March 2019 for the second payment.
On Monday’s episode of Sunrise, Turnbull appeared on air to talk about the measures the government had put in place and explained that farmers had appreciated the support from not only the government, but other Australians. Still, it didn’t sit well with host David “Kochie” Koch, who hit out at the way farmers would be receiving the money.
“Couple of things,” Kochie said, interrupting Turnbull. “The $12,000 is terrific, $6,000 now, the other $6,000 not until March. Why just not pay it all now?”
Turnbull said the government decided to split it into two lumps, but Kochie wasn’t buying it.
“They need it now,” he snapped, as the PM insisted March wasn’t that far away. “Hang on,” Kochie added. “March is a long way away. We’re in a drought.”
Turnbull tried to explain that some farmers hadn’t qualified for the allowance but that the government had worked out with the agencies that this was the best way about it.
“It’s an administrative issue,” he explained to the frustrated Sunrise host.
Still, Kochie wasn’t giving up, explaining that farmers had asked for restrictions to be lifted and for state and federal governments to work together to help them out.
“The way the drought cooperation between the feds and the states operate is the states are responsible for fodder subsidies and freight subsidies, the federal government provides the social welfare support, if you like, for families,” Turnbull explained.
During yesterday’s announcement, Turnbull also announced the asset test was increasing to $5 million from the current $2.6 million, explaining that farmers are sitting on assets which in the drought, can’t generate income. Mental health was also another big talking point for Turnbull and his package, with the government investing in mental health services across regional Australia to help farmers most in need.
“We can’t make it rain,” he said. “But we can ensure that farming families and their communities get all the support they need to get through the drought, recover and get back on their feet.”