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  • MP to call for drought relief in maiden speech

    2018 - 07.05

    WESTERN Queensland drought conditions are now at the stage where Exceptional Circumstance relief measures need to be enacted, according to the member for Gregory, Lachlan Millar.
    Nanjing Night Net

    BIG DRY: Gregory MP Lachlan Millar believes there should be Exceptional Circumstance relief measures due to the drought.

    Foreshadowing the contents of his maiden speech to Parliament, likely to take place on Friday, the Gregory MP said conditions were so bad they could no longer be considered just a drought.

    “This is a natural disaster,” he said.

    “There’s a massive downturn in the economy, which needs to be recognised at all levels of government.

    “People are losing confidence and we urgently need to do something to keep them here.”

    Mr Millar said nothing had changed since Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s listening tour to Longreach a year ago, except that small businesses in rural towns were now facing similar business collapses as surrounding graziers.

    When questioned at the time about extra drought measures, Mr Abbott said the last time he visited Longreach there had only been one bad season, which was why an in-drought crisis response had not been forthcoming before that.

    Producers last February were staring down the barrel of their second failed wet season, and since then, yet another wet season has almost passed without drought-breaking rain.

    Warren Truss, visiting Longreach a few weeks before Mr Abbott’s 2014 tour in an acting Prime Minister capacity, had already ruled out reviving Exceptional Circumstance drought relief payments despite noting then the situation had become so dire in a number of areas that the criteria for ECRP would have been met if in place.

    Mr Millar thought thesituation warranted a round table meeting between federal, state and local government levels to come up with solutions.

    “The Drought Relief Assistance Scheme funding has been doing a great job but we need to find a way to keep our towns going,” he said.

    “Long-standing businesses are saying they’ve only got three months left before they make some very hard decisions.

    “When the seasons return we are going to need these people in our towns.”

    Under the ECRP scheme established in 1992, eligibility for financial assistance has been determined by geographic location, or specific areas considered to be experiencing worse-than-normal drought conditions. Farm-dependent small businesses were also eligible for assistance.

    Mr Millar added that once the drought was behind everyone he would like to explore a pastoral tax rate.

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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