'Deplorable politics' make muddy water for drought funding
'DEPLORABLE' politics is getting in the way of future-proofing Australia from drought, according to Agriculture Minister David Littleproud, who said a new multi-billion dollar drought fund would not dip into money reserved to help people with disabilities.
The Federal Government last month announced a new $5 billion Drought Future Fund as part of its plan to prepare the industry for future droughts.
"It will give a better opportunity for our longer-term drought policies to be supported with financial means to make sure there are programs rolled out," the Member for Maranoa said.
"Things like further water infrastructure, or more research and developing technology to make sure our farmers are more resilient and prepared in the future.
"This is about complementing existing measures and drought resilience policies."
An initial $3.9million dollar contribution to the fund will come from Labor's Building Australia Fund, money that was originally going to be diverted to the NDIS.
But Mr Littleproud said it was "deplorable politics" to suggest funding was being taken away from the scheme which he previously referred to as a "once-in-a-generation landmark reform".
"That is nonsense and it is deplorable politics for anyone to suggest that," he said.
"Politics need to be taken out of this. It is a great investment in the future of agriculture and petty politics should be done away with."
Mr Littleproud said the Federal Government had funded the NDIS fully.
"This money is unutilised in a building fund and can now be used to strengthen our regional communities, particularly places like Warwick," he said.
Payments of about $100million per year will become available from 2020.
Mr Littleproud said legislation to establish the fund should pass through parliament before the end of the year.
While the Government's long-term view of drought has gained approval in some circles, retired Murray's Bridge farmer David Cory said the benefits of more research and infrastructure would be unevenly distributed.
"What we're saying is, it is pretty hard to find a clear solution to the problem of drought because every individual situation is different and would need a different strategy to be of help," he said.
"That is why money is the major thing and to distribute relief in taxes and rates and general expenses is a big help."
Mr Cory said water infrastructure like dams was a complicated solution because overheads for machinery, electricity and labour associated with irrigation were high.
"So many of these sort of things are too expensive to be economically viable. Only a certain few can make use of that sort of money."