Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has struck a deal with the National Party to boost financial assistance for regional stay-at-home mothers and students.
Following the political assassination of Tony Abbott, Mr Turnbull and Nationals Leader Warren Truss met on Tuesday to renegotiate Coalition unity.
“The Nationals will work constructively with Malcolm and his Liberal team to ensure regional Australia gets its fair share of government investment and that future policy directions appropriately advance regional people, businesses and communities,” Mr Truss said in a statement.
According to News Corp, the deal included $600 million to give 140,000 families with stay-at-home mums an extra $1000 a year in benefits. The deal reportedly also included funding for regional university students to receive youth allowance payments.
Another big win for the Nationals was an agreement to transfer responsibility for water policy from the environment portfolio and the Murray-Darling Basin Authority to the agriculture portfolio of Nationals Deputy Leader Barnaby Joyce.
Barnaby Joyce said the economic and social basis of many regional towns was premised on access to water.
“Without water they do not have an economy,” he said.
“There is not much point having an environmental outcome if there is no-one there to enjoy it.”
Turnbull also promised to stand by the plan to canvass same-sex marriage at a national plebiscite and put to cabinet for re-consideration the so-called ‘effects test’ to prevent abuses of market power — something for which farmers have campaigned.
The Nationals once expressed grave reservations about working with Mr Turnbull. But with these concessions, the party now seems to be behind the new leader.
Mr Turnbull, as opposition leader between 2008 and 2009, favoured an emissions trading scheme and a floating carbon price. Under the deal, he undertook not to depart from existing coalition policies on climate change action, the carbon tax and emissions reduction targets.
– with AAP