Mr PERRETT (Gympie—LNP) (2.06 pm): As noted on my register of interest, I declare I have an individually droughted property declaration. It is a disgrace that the Premier and agriculture minister will not own up to the government’s drought cuts. Yesterday I asked the Premier to intervene and reverse the cuts to fodder freight subsidies that come into effect from 1 July next year. Labor is cutting subsidies to drought affected farmers from 1 July next year. The request was treated with denial and arrogance.
It shows indifference and contempt for those in drought.
Minister Furner came into the House and accused the LNP and me of making this up for political gain. The minister referred to the drought review, which he has accepted. Recommendation 4 of that review states—
The DRAS livestock freight subsidy cease on the revocation of current declarations, including area declarations and IDPs.
Restocking and returning from agistment subsidies would be available for two years, as per existing guidelines, after current declarations are revoked.
The government accepted this recommendation and to commence arrangements from 1 July 2020. It means farmers who are drought declared from 1 July next year are no longer eligible for animal welfare freight subsidies. The scheme for remaining farmers will be completely phased out by 2021 or before, at the end of the current drought declarations. What happens if the drought continues past 2021? Labor has already banked the savings. The answer to question on notice No. 1314, which I will table, shows the government has budgeted a $50 million saving in the forward estimates for DRAS from 1 July 2020 to 2023.
Tabled paper: Answer to Question on Notice No. 1314 asked on 4 September 2019 2188.
That $50 million should be in the forward estimates. Refusing to have it in the forward estimates is as good as a cut. It is a cut to drought support when farmers need it. Minister Furner received the drought report in January, did not reveal it until the end of June and has accepted the recommendations.
He cannot weasel out of this. As farmers continue to struggle, the minister refuses to make clear what future drought support will look like. Cutting drought support is reckless. It is reckless to not build and deliver water infrastructure that will futureproof the state from disastrous droughts.
This anti-dams and anti-farmers government is tearing down the walls of Bundaberg’s Paradise Dam and rapidly shrinking Rockhampton’s Rookwood Weir project. Millions of litres of water are poured into the ocean while towns like Stanthorpe and farms on the Downs are drying up. In the Gympie region, farmers are struggling. I again call on the minister to have the local drought committee meet to reconsider the region’s drought status. Seasonal conditions are deteriorating rapidly. A Deb Frecklington LNP government will not abandon farmers. We will build the droughtproofing water infrastructure Queensland needs and provide the support farmers and their communities need to survive this drought.