Prime Minister Scott Morrison will visit drought-stricken Queensland next week in his first official visit as Australian prime minister.
Mr Morrison was in Canberra on Saturday drawing up his new ministry and met with deputy prime minister Michael McCormack and national drought coordinator Major General Stephen Day to highlight his focus on a drought fix.
“I’m not pretending to know one end of a sheep from another,” Mr Morrison said.
“But I do know people are hurting in the country, and they have been hurting terribly.”
Mr Morrison acknowledged the one-week-old appointment of Major General Day by his predecessor Malcolm Turnbull.
But defeating the drought would require bringing together all the resources of government at all levels.
“Another major general once told me don’t rush to failure, and I think it’s important we listen, we plan, we coordinate and we respond,” Mr Morrison said.
He said it was Major General Day’s job to do just that.
“I’m up to the challenge,” the major general responded. “Dealing with the drought is a team sport. I’m glad to be on the team.”
Labor welcomed Mr Morrison prioritising drought as “good news,” but said the role of climate change needed to be acknowledged.
Jacketless and with sleeves rolled up, Mr McCormack said he was happy at efforts the government had recently made to help out rural small businesses.
“When our regional people are hurting – and they are really hurting in this dire situation – our nation hurts too,” he said.
For that reason, he was glad Mr Morrison’s first port of call was drought-affected Queensland.
“I don’t have an akubra mate,” Mr Morrison quipped.
“So I’ll just have to wear my Sharks hat,” he said, referring to his local league club.