Meaningful drought relief needed

Liam Durkin

DROUGHT-affected farmers are only interested in a visit by the premier if he can provide meaningful help.

Victorian Farmers Federation local group president and Giffard West farmer Steve Harrison said farmers in Wellington Shire would only accept a long-awaited visit from Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews if a suitable guarantee of assistance was forthcoming.

“From farmers’ perspectives there’s no point him coming down to Gippsland, unless he brings a support package – we just won’t entertain him,” Mr Harrison said.

“The last effort by [state Agriculture Minister] Jaclyn Symes – even she was embarrassed by it,” he said.

“It’s disappointing country Victorians aren’t being properly acknowledged by a visit.

“Every federal minister [has visited] – we’ve had two agricultural ministers, deputy prime minister, the prime minister, state opposition leader and Nationals leader, but no one from Labor.”

The premier has been repeatedly asked to visit drought-affected farmers in the region, with Gippsland South MLA Danny O’Brien pressing the premier a number of times in state parliament.

Ms Symes visited Giffard in February to announce what was a much-anticipated drought relief package – a one-off payment of $3500 for young farmers and $2500 for those aged over 35.