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Hon. J.B.

Hon. Barnaby Joyce MP
Minister for Agriculture

(Inaudible) It is great to be back out at Charleville. It is really important
that in this job we get a chance to go out and say g’day to people on the
ground and it’s really important that what we hear is a clear message.
You can’t make promises that you can’t deliver on so, we won’t be
making them but to find out the sort of direction that people would go if
they had the opportunity to run the show in Canberra and it’s great to
have the Commonwealth Treasurer on the road with us because the
pictures speak a thousand words and having Joe on the road with us
gives us a great opportunity to explain the situation and it just goes to
show that we have got a Joe that will go out bush and have a look around
and I congratulate him for it.
Well, thanks mate.
What are your impressions of what you have seen on your trip today?

Well, obviously there are some communities that are doing it pretty damn
tough but communities are resilient and I think when we have targeted
help that is obviously focussed on building medium and long term
infrastructure then you know, you can make a big difference and it is
simple things like appropriate land clearing and making sure there is
expedited opportunity for that when it can provide feed for cattle or be it
the water infrastructure that is provided in various water programs that
we have put in place, but there is still much to learn and I think, we don’t
want to re-invent the wheel when it comes to dealing with drought. Now,
we have been to Walgett and Mitchell as well and here in Charleville, and
really it is about listening, not just turning up when you know it is an
absolute end of the road crisis but actually you know, being a participant
on the journey.
It is getting pretty close to the end of the road for some of the graziers
here; what brought you here now? Is it that you are hearing that message
that things are getting really tough?
Well, Barnaby is a formidable advocate for regional Australia and so,
when he raised it in cabinet, I keep saying to myself, well I’ve got to get
out there and he facilitated this trip and it is about getting out and
listening but also how can we fix things, not big dramatic (inaudible) of
money but just fixing things. So much can be achieved just by making
minor adjustments to packages and making things in mind.
Do you have anything particular in mind?
Yeah I do but I am not going to share them with you at the moment. I
mean, it is a listening tour and that’s what we are interested in here.

So, no new big announcements today obviously but can we expect those
changes in weeks, months?
Yeah, look they are all work in progress. There are some things we can
move quite quickly on; there are other things that will take a little bit
longer but also, we have been talking about you know, having a way
forward and that means – obviously, Barnaby has got the Agricultural
White Paper coming up but also, there are some tax things that I think
we can do to try and help people through that time. Look, if a community
has a massive drop-off in its income then that not only affects the
community, it affects the tax office. So, I think there are ways we can try
and smooth over some of the peaks and troughs of revenue collections in
some of these communities.
What about this idea of a rural investment fund or a rural bank or
something like that to encourage investment in agriculture? The
Queensland Government has said it would look at that as an option if that
was put on the table.
The Queensland Government is welcome to set up a bank any time.
Or an investment fund. Is that something – you are talking about
different options, what else?
Well, I am not going to speculate, I mean, you can try; we will be here a
long time.

Are they more probable to be things that will help people prepare for
future droughts or is it more immediate (inaudible).
Well, it is a combination of both. I can see ways forward in addressing
some of the challenges that are immediate and obviously in cropping
country, I mean, it is a question of whether they have the money to be
able to pay for the crops, you know, to sow the crops, the upfront capital
that is needed before you can get something out of the ground. You know,
there is cash flow issues, there’s also issues relating to the structure of
existing programs. Some programs are running out; there may be a good
reason to continue some of those programs and there also some
programs where you know, it is smart if we just invest in the
infrastructure as you can see here, you know, taking advantage of what is
And has this trip helped drive home the urgency?
Well, you know, a drought is something that is not uncommon but I just
think we can be better at managing it and I think what we’ve got to do is
work with the people that are feeling it but also with the people that are
trying to address the issues. Now, I think we have close relationships
with the banks that are already there and we can have closer
relationships with local government but ultimately, if a farmer hasn’t got
money it affects the whole community not just the farmer and I think that
is lost a bit in the city, sometimes.
Barnaby, is this a sign that your Coalition counterparts are getting on
board? You’re a fierce advocate for the bush as Mr Hockey said…

We are the same family, aren’t we?
I know, you have had a bit of a fight on your hands at times, is this a sign
that you’re winning your…
Well, it’s an ongoing process. No one is ever blind to it and no one ever
sort of stops thinking about it. Sometimes – you know it always amazes
me that when we put a drought package out, when we first – the first
thing I brought to Cabinet was a drought package, when we just arrived
there then the start of this year there was another one and now we are
out here again and sometimes people say, ‘you have forgotten about us’
and I say, ‘well, this is my third trip back’ and we always try to do things
– I mean, the last package was $320 million and we know within that
package we can do things better. It does get a little bit annoying
sometimes when people say I’m arguing about what’s in the package and
you say at least you have a package to argue about because before, there
was no package.
How much of that $320 million has been allocated out to farms?
Well, here – you are looking at some of it right here. Okay, your water
infrastructure, I don’t know whether this is part of it but water
infrastructure (inaudible) the mental health money, that is being rolled
out. Do you know we have got more than 3000 people now on Farm
Household Allowance that actually are receiving between $900-$1000 a
fortnight. Now, let’s remember that these settings change because Joe
and I change them and that’s got this money flowing out to people. Now,
within the loans money, we don’t put the money out in one big tranche,

we roll it out in tranches and every piece of money that we have rolled
out has been absorbed by the people of New South Wales and
Queensland and the tranches that have been made available to them and
we are getting now more people that are rolling now with the drought
loans which is at 4 per cent. (Inaudible) So, within that section, if we can
do things better we are happy to consider it but we’ve got to remember
that, I think that, I don’t know a Labor Government that within their first
year had put out two drought packages and had the Federal Treasurer
round looking at other ways we can improve it; we had the Prime
Minister out. We are trying to make sure we that do our very best and
working hand in glove with our good friends at a state level, you know,
we are mindful of here. Joe Hockey is in Charleville because the Coalition
actually does give a damn. I don’t remember when Wayne Swan came to
Can I say something about unemployment?
So, that’s a record.
These are good figures but obviously they bounce around month to
month. The main focus of the Coalition is to create jobs, to create an
environment where business can employ more people and our program,
our Economic Action Strategy is working. This is all the more reason to
start getting more of the structural changes through in the Budget; it is
all the more reason to keep undertaking the reform agenda that builds a
stronger economy. We said we would be in the business of creating more
jobs, it is being delivered but there is still much work to do.