Farmers have urged the federal government to offer cash packages for drought-stricken farmers wanting to leave the land.
The National Farmers’ Federation has written to Prime Minister Scott Morrison asking for six measures to tackle the drought sweeping swathes of regional Australia.
NFF president Fiona Simson believes exit packages could be one tool to help stem growing desperation on some rural properties.
“Sometimes people feel like they’re running out of options and that’s when bad things happen,” she said in Canberra on Wednesday.
“Sometimes people feel that they’re looking down a never-ending tunnel at the moment because we don’t know when the drought is going to end.”
She said exit grants could help people who “feel like they’ve had enough” with costs like finding somewhere else to live and paying a removalist.
The NFF’s six-point plan for the current drought also includes federal government relief for council rates and pasture lease charges.
The farm lobby wants the commonwealth to look at payroll subsidies of farming business in line with Newstart.
Other measures include:
* A $2000 top-up of the Assistance for Isolated Children allowance
* A two-year interest free period for Regional Investment Corporation drought loans
* A plan to work with state governments towards eradication of feral pigs.
During a Senate estimates hearing on Tuesday, Agriculture Secretary Daryl Quinlivan said eradicating Australia’s up to 24 million wild pigs was unrealistic.
Separately, the NFF gave its national drought policy to the Morrison government last week before releasing the document publicly on Wednesday.
“It’s about coordinating the three tiers of government, and also community groups and industry,” Ms Simson said.
“Like every other drought before us, like every other government before them, we’ve been reactionary to drought and responsive to the actual drought.”
The policy is designed to tackle future droughts through a comprehensive national approach.
Meanwhile, Nationals MPs are pushing for a 10-point plan that includes more money to pay for fodder, municipal rates, and quarantine fees, as well as boarding school fees and costs.
The junior coalition partner wants to establish community committees made up of mayors and local community leaders, who would oversee the distribution of grants for capital projects.
Labor’s agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon is calling on the government to convene a bipartisan drought cabinet and release the drought coordinator’s report.
“This morning we learned that the National Farmers’ Federation have a six-point plan for drought, the National Party has a 10-point plan but Scott Morrison has no plan at all,” he told reporters in Canberra.