NSW Government Announces Extra $500M for Drought Relief

Cathy He
By Cathy He
July 30, 2018World News
NSW Government Announces Extra $500M for Drought Relief
New South Wales is experiencing one of the worst droughts in living memory. (Photo by Brook Mitchell/Getty Images)

The NSW government has announced on July 30 an additional $500 million in funding to help farmers affected by drought.

The Emergency Drought Relief Package includes approximately $190 million for the introduction transport subsidies of up to $20,000 to cover part of the cost of transporting fodder, water, and stock. The subsidy will also be backdated for freight expenses incurred since January 2018.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said farmers are facing one of the driest winters on record, with 99 percent of the state now in draught. This has resulted in failing crops, drastic water shortages and a diminishing supply of fodder to sustain livestock.

“We have listened to farmers throughout NSW who have told me they urgently need help,” Ms Berejiklian said in a statement.

“To date we have already committed $584 million in drought support, most of which is focused on preparation for drought conditions.

“However, conditions are now so dire that further support is needed to address the more immediate needs for farmers and their communities until the drought breaks.”

The liberal state governmental has also waived Local Land Services rates, fixed water charges, class-one agricultural vehicles registration costs, and interest charges on Farm Innovation Fund loans.

In addition, the Farm Innovation Fund, which provides loans for farmers to improve infrastructure and prepare for seasonal weather fluctuations, has been boosted with $150 million as part of the measures.

The package also includes funding for counselling and mental health services, water transport services, drought-related road upgrades, and animal welfare and stock disposal.

The emergency funding brought the state’s total drought support to $1.1 billion.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro said farmers have been forced to source fodder from interstate as local supply has deteriorated.

“We said we would constantly reassess the conditions and relief measures, and the fact we’ve now increased our drought-relief package to over $1 billion is a reflection of how serious this drought is, and how much we value the health and wellbeing of our farming and regional communities,” he said.

Berejiklian told reporters in Bathurst on July 30 that the government will introduce additional relief measures at a later date.

The NSW Rural Assistance Authority will begin processing applications from August 8.

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