More support in dry times
In early June 2018 I hosted the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud, and Ministers John McVeigh and Bridget McKenzie on a visit to drought-affected areas in my electorate. We visited Philip and Ashlea Miles at their property “Strathmore” via Trangie, met with Local Councils to discuss the issues pertinent to their Local Council Areas, and talked with residents.
I’m pleased that the Coalition Government has considered the needs of farmers and farming communities across the Parkes electorate during the desperate dry times we are currently experiencing. Almost all of NSW is now suffering from an extended dry period, which is expected to continue throughout the winter and potentially spring.
As a result, the Minister for Agriculture, David Littleproud, recently announced the extension of the Farm Household Allowance (FHA) from three to four years, through the Farm Household Support Amendment Bill 2018. More announcements are likely in the coming weeks.
Farmers said extending FHA was a sensible measure which would help them, and the Government acted on that. The drought has been going on for long enough and I’ve seen the hardship it has created for communities across the electorate.
FHA is essentially an adjustment payment which comes with free financial counselling to help farmers restructure. The extra time will give them more breathing space to implement plans to become financially self-sufficient so they are better placed to sustain their farming businesses.
I’d like to remind farmers not to self-assess on whether or not they are eligible for FHA, as many eligible families have not applied.
The Coalition Government will also hold a drought roundtable in coming weeks with key farming stakeholders, including the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) and state farming groups. Long-term drought policy and strategy will be discussed, in the context of building resilience and drought preparedness.
The Coalition Government provides support measures to assist farming families in hardship including FHA, the Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS) and Drought Assistance Concessional Loans. For more information on support available for farmers, visit www.agriculture.gov.au.
A boost for our future workers
Young Australians across the Parkes electorate will benefit from the revitalisation of Australia’s Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector, including those attending TAFE. The Coalition government has committed approximately $3 billion towards the VET sector in 2018-19.
Vocational education and training is critical to Australia’s economy and the delivery of services and infrastructure, and I’m proud the Government is backing it.
Around $1.5 billion is being provided to the states and territories through the Special Purpose Payment. That is earmarked for VET, and states and territories are responsible for funding their VET systems, including TAFE.
Australian apprenticeships are being supported with funding of up to $189 million annually in the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network. This will make it easier for employers to recruit, train, retain and support apprentices.
There is also significant support for Australian apprentices and their employers over the life of an apprenticeship – up to $400 million annually through the Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Program.
Revitalising VET and restoring confidence in the sector is key to boosting future student numbers across the board. It will benefit students looking for a career, our TAFEs and VET providers, employers and the Australian economy.
It will boost jobs and help deliver the infrastructure and services we depend on across the Parkes electorate. This is a pathway to success for hundreds of thousands of young people, giving them the opportunity to acquire real skills for real careers.