Drought Assistance

Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (14:05): My question is to the Minister for Primary—

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order!

Ms Hildyard interjecting:

The SPEAKER: The member for Reynell is called to order.

The Hon. A. Piccolo interjecting:

The SPEAKER: The member for Light is called to order.

Mr PEDERICK: My question is to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development. Can the minister update the house on measures in the federal budget to futureproof our farmers against drought?

The Hon. T.J. WHETSTONE (Chaffey—Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development) (14:05): I certainly can. I thank the member for Hammond for his question, and an important question it was and is today. I thank the member for that question, and he knows only too well the hardships that drought is bringing not only to the farmers around South Australia but to his electorate of Hammond, which is probably one of the electorates suffering most in the state. I have been working closely with the Liberal Coalition in Canberra, looking at ways we can support our primary producers.

The Hon. A. Piccolo interjecting:

The SPEAKER: The member for Light is interjecting.

The Hon. T.J. WHETSTONE: We just recently had the third visit from Major General Stephen Day, the Prime Minister's drought coordinator. He has been over here looking at ways he can help fill the policy gaps right across the nation, particularly here in South Australia. We have seen his good work. He has been the conduit from this government to the federal government for ways we can support our farmers to help them be more resilient and also to help them futureproof their businesses and their families.

It is also important to note that the federal budget handed down a number of measures that will help futureproof those communities, particularly our primary producers, so that they can remain. The establishment of a $3.9 billion emergency response fund providing up to $150 million per annum, starting from the 2019-20 year, is part of a recovery package for all natural disasters. There is a more than $3 million increase in access to the Farm Household Allowance, and there is a $5 million grant to the Country Women's Association to help farmers' families experiencing hardship. The money to the CWA, by and large, is a bit of a gap fill. It provides money and puts food on the table to make sure that the kids go to school while those families and communities can access the Farm Household Allowance.

Mr Hughes interjecting:

The SPEAKER: The member for Giles is called to order.

The Hon. T.J. WHETSTONE: There is $34 million nationally over four years to encourage stewardship and biodiversity practices in the ag sector, including the new grants program, and $4.2 million over four years to improve the National Drought Map. We need to understand that the National Drought Map, sadly, has expanded this year but, as we know, farmers are eternal optimists and they will look to the skies for rain.

Additionally, the budget also reconfirmed delivery of $5 million for five additional South Australian local government areas to be eligible for up to $1 million in the Drought Communities Programme. We see now that Berri, Murray Bridge, Light, Flinders Ranges and Peterborough bring us to a total of 22 local government areas. That's $22 million being put into the regions to help them adjust for job losses that have been caused by drought. Senator Bridget McKenzie was also working with the member for Grey, the member for Barker and Senator Anne Ruston. They all came together with myself and the Premier to bring that money to South Australia.

The extension of the Drought Communities Programme also enables farmers, workers and now suppliers to be eligible for a further $3,000 per affected household. It is vital that we continue to work with the federal government so that we can address the hardship and the uncertainty. The Premier, myself and the regional local members have been out in the drought-affected communities. We have not just flown into an area, visited one area, made a bit of a headline, got a radio grab, got a TV grab and shot through.

The Premier, the local members and I have been out extensively. We have been out from the West Coast, through the pastoral lands, and we have been to our eastern borders. We have been out there and looked at the majority of South Australia that is doing it tough. Those drought-affected communities can rely on this government to represent them and to give them support because we know that #RegionsMatter.

Mr Hughes: There wasn't a dollar in the budget.

The SPEAKER: The member for Giles is warned for a second and final time.