Australian farmers have been battling Australia’s second severe drought in almost a decade, but the Australian Government has warned that it will slash the value of the drought aid package.
An article on NASDAQ reveals that Treasurer Joe Hockey warned Australian farmers, who were hopeful that the Government would offer a helping hand, that “the days of entitlement are over”.
According to him, the Government is forced to take such steps due to numerous pressures that are imposing spending cuts, with the dwindling mining boom and growing unemployment rates at the very top of the list.
The so-called Millennium drought has forced Australian farmers to shoot livestock or leave their land for good, which has resulted in a 10% rise in Australia’s farm debts, now totalling around A$70 billion.
“You just can’t look at the problems when things are tough, because they can be good. The answer to the problem of debt is not to have more debt, and interest rates historically now are at all-time lows,” said Mr Hockey in an interview with Australian radio.
According to him, Australia needs a debate about sustainable agriculture as it is already the driest inhabited continent in the world.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s ministers are trying to find common ground as division regarding the issue rules the Cabinet.
Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said he was hopeful that his senior colleagues will approve the farm assistance package aimed at providing ranchers with all the necessary resources that will get them through to July.
“Drought is a natural disaster, and therefore it’s appropriate that state and federal governments work together to tackle the problem,” said Mr Joyce, but did not wish to specify the level of drought assistance necessary.
“Everyone in Australia must do heavy lifting now. The age of entitlement is over, the age of personal responsibility has begun,” said Mr Hockey while campaigning in Brisbane and added that Australians had to accept welfare cuts if the country was to regain some of its economic strength.