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Prime Minister defends staggered payments to farmers, dodges whether help is too late

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is defending staggered assistance being given to drought-stricken farmers, despite criticism it isn’t enough and has come too late.

Farmers can apply for two lump-sum payments worth up to $12,000, with the second payment not coming until March next year.

Farmers are worried the government’s $190 million addition isn’t enough to get them through the next few months.

Mr Turnbull is backing his government’s decision to stagger payments, dodging questions as to whether assistance has come too late.

The PM tells Chris Smith he is “very keenly aware” of the drought as he and his wife Lucy Turnbull own property in regional New South Wales.

“Luc and I have got cattle and sheep operations in the Upper Hunter Valley and that’s one of the hardest hit parts of the state.

“We’ve been living with this, hand-feeding stock, for a long time now.

“The answer is, I went out in early June, to talk to communities about the drought. We increased the Farm Household Allowance then.

“After that visit, we made a number of other changes to provide additional support.”

When asked why we’re relying on private trucking companies and not federal military resources to get help to drought-stricken farms, Mr Turnbull says we don’t want to see “private truckies out of business”.

“Let’s be frank… you’ve got to remember everyone’s trying to make a quid and there are truck drivers with families to support too.”

He says transporting water for stock would only ever be on the cards in the “most extreme circumstances”.

“We don’t yet have the town water shortage problem at the scale it was in 2006/07.”

Click PLAY below for the full interview 

When asked whether Indonesia will receive additional foreign aid following a deadly earthquake, Mr Turnbull is vague on the details.

Farmers who think they may be eligible for the government’s additional Farm Household Allowance should contact the Rural Financial Counselling Service on 1800 686 175.

Donate to The Big Dry Drought Appeal HERE