Barnaby Joyce burns poor farmers

FARMERS who get cut off from government assistance after four years won't get an extension, the Morrison Government has revealed, while former drought envoy Barnaby Joyce says they should ask themselves "what are you doing on the land".

It sparked fiery accusations the Government had stopped backing farmers while they battle the worst drought in Australian history.

Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce says farmers who hit the four-year limit for Farm Household Allowance should consider getting off the land. Picture: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas
Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce says farmers who hit the four-year limit for Farm Household Allowance should consider getting off the land. Picture: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

The Courier-Mail this week revealed about 200 Queensland farmers had been kicked off the Farm Household Allowance, a $489 a fortnight payment to help those struggling to make ends meet during the drought. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg yesterday said the allowance had been reviewed and the limit already extended from three years in a lifetime to four years over a decade.

Defending the decision not to lift the cap, Mr Joyce said the payment was only meant to be a temporary support.

"We don't want to keep people in perpetual poverty. If people have not made a profit in the last 10 years you have to think, what are you doing with your life, what are you doing on the land," he told Sky News.

"People need to answer the question in their own mind if this is the job for them.

"The payment was set up to support people for a short period of time."

Labor agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon said the comments and lack of a review were disappointing.

Labor agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon says the FHA should be extended while the drought is ongoing. Picture: Renee Nowytarger / The Australian
Labor agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon says the FHA should be extended while the drought is ongoing. Picture: Renee Nowytarger / The Australian

"The test of a viable farm should not be whether you can continue to operate in the seventh year of the worst drought in our history," he said.

"There are many, many farming families who have viable farming business propositions, but in the worst drought in our history it's difficult.

"Barnaby Joyce used to stand up for farmers, now he's simply running Scott Morrison's lines."

AgForce CEO Mike Guerin this week said the length of the drought was unprecedented and that it was time for FHA to be reviewed and the limit lifted "with urgency".