Well, it’s heartening to discover yet again that the age of entitlement isn’t over if you have the right connections. This morning the government announced a $320 million “drought relief” package for farmers. In doing so, it has turned its back on five years’ worth of drought relief reform at the Commonwealth-state level.
In 2009, the Productivity Commission produced a report on drought assistance that was scathing of the National Drought Policy and the “exceptional circumstances” trigger that Labor had inherited from previous governments. Exceptional circumstances payments, it said, did “not help farmers improve their self-reliance, preparedness and climate change management …Governments need to commit to a long term reform path that recognises that the primary responsibility for managing risks, including from climate variability and change, rests with farmers”. The report said: