Many Australian farmers have been doing it extremely tough in recent months as the country endured one of the worst droughts in living history, but now Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a new funding allocation of $5 billion which he says will help rural workers through “non-rainy days in the future”.
The prime minister confirmed that the Federal government will initially commit a sum of $3.9 billion dollars, which is set to increase to $5 billion by within 10 years, however just $100 million will be released each year from July 1, 2020.
According to The Australian, the Future Drought Fund will be announced at a national drought summit on Friday, which the PM will attend alongside Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals leader Michael McCormack and special drought envoy Barnaby Joyce.
“Our response to the drought has to be the same – deal with the here and now, but also make sure we plan for the future,” Morrison told the newspaper. “That’s what the Future Drought Fund is all about. Putting money aside for non-rainy days in the future.
“This funding will support farmers and their local communities when it’s not raining. It guarantees drought support for the men and women who drive our nation. The challenges of drought vary from farm to farm, district to district, town to town and we continually need to adapt and build capacity — the Future Drought Fund gives us this opportunity.”
The drought fund, which is the first of its kind in Australia, will be managed by the Future Fund Board of Guardians which is currently chaired by former treasurer Peter Costello.
It will be put towards “important water infrastructure and drought resilience projects”, with the funds aimed at supporting investment in local projects, infrastructure and research to support long-term sustainability.
However not everyone was impressed by Morrison’s announcement, with many taking to social media to criticise the PM’s stance on climate change. One wrote: “What a joke. Call it what it is. A CLIMATE CHANGE FUND. @ScottMorrisonMP continues his populist push for votes.” Another said: “Coalition to redirect $3.9bn into Drought Future Fund for ‘non-rainy days’. Maybe an investment in reducing carbon emissions, or even an acknowledgement would go a long way towards drought proofing Australia!”
While another wrote: “I’ll tell you this for free. Put the initial $3.9b into increasing all welfare. You’d be amazed at the trickle up effect. Oh, and your research with tell you to go RENEWABLE.”
Yesterday, Morrison spoke about Friday’s summit during a doorstop conference in Bungendore, NSW. He said: “Tomorrow, people will come from all around the country for the Drought Summit. And the Drought Summit is about relief, absolutely. Making sure we’re out there supporting those who are doing it extremely tough.
“But it’s also importantly about recovery and it’s also about resilience into the future. This is about doing what we need to do straight away and it’s about doing what we need to do long-term and to have the long-term vision and plan to ensure that we’ve got the right practices and we’ve got the right infrastructure and the right support going right around Australia. And so the Summit tomorrow will be an important further step in how we’re achieving those goals.”