STICKING TO HIS GUNS: Member for Stephen Bennett says he has been working with farmers to get individual assistance.
STICKING TO HIS GUNS: Member for Stephen Bennett says he has been working with farmers to get individual assistance.

Back and forth over drought declaration is petty: MP

THE stoush between two politicians continues after one of them called for a drought declaration in the region.

This week, Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett raised concerns that Agriculture Minister Bill Byrne and his office were not taking the plight of suffering farmers seriously and called for the declaration.

Mr Byrne bit back on Tuesday, saying the Burnett MP had not properly communicated with his office about the issue.

"He (Mr Bennett) has not raised any concerns on behalf of producers with my office or the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries," he said.

But Mr Bennett has stuck to his guns, and said there was considerable planning involved in trying to get the problem aired.

"The minister was quick to accuse me of not raising the issue with him, but if he communicated with his own office he would know that I have requested a ministerial briefing on this very matter," Mr Bennett said.

"In addition, despite what the minister claims, I have been actively working with farmers and irrigators who are struggling in the current dry conditions and advising them to apply for an Individually Droughted Property (IDP) Declaration."

An IDP allows access to Queensland Government drought assistance before an area drought declaration.

Mr Bennett said "petty politics" needed to be put aside so the real issue could be addressed.

"I again urge the minister to work with our community - our farmers and irrigators - to give them the relief they desperately need," he said.

Producers who wish to apply for drought assistance can phone the department on 13 25 23 or visit www.daf.qld.gov.au.



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