Extra drought funding to make life "easier" for farmers: Australian PM

Source: Xinhua| 2019-09-28 13:41:36|Editor: Wu Qin
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CANBERRA, Sept. 28 (Xinhua) -- Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a new support package which will deliver nearly 100 million Australian dollars (67.6 million U.S. dollars) in drought relief funding.

Morrison on Friday visited regions hit by the drought in Queensland. The package includes about 51 million Australian dollars (34.5 million U.S. dollars) to simplify and extend the Farm Household Allowance (FHA), a form of welfare for drought-affected farmers.

It is estimated that only one quarter of the 24,000 farmers currently eligible for the FHA actually received funds.

"Supporting drought affected communities remains our government's most urgent priority," the prime minister said in a media release.

"I know that things are only getting harder for many farmers and rural communities, and that's why we are taking further action and providing even more support," he added.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the package of measures would provide an immediate economic stimulus at the local level.

"We are delivering 33.42 million Australian dollars (22.6 million U.S. dollars) to resume the Drought Community Support Initiative, which will deliver up to 3,000 Australian dollars (2028.9 U.S. dollars) to eligible farming households experiencing hardship due to drought," McCormack said.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology, the drought in the Murray-Darling Basin, Australia's biggest food bowl spanning across South Australia, Victoria, NSW and Queensland, is the worst in recorded history.

The funding announcement also includes payments of one million Australian dollars (676,296 U.S. dollars) to 13 local government areas for infrastructure and drought relief products.