The Assistance Package You Have When You Are Not Having an Assistance Package

Questioning by Coalition Senators at Senate Estimates hearings at Parliament House today showed that the Government has absolutely no idea about how its own so-called Farm Finance Concessional Loans for Farm Businesses program will work.

In fact, despite the hoopla and fanfare of the programs announcement on 27 April by Treasurer Wayne Swan in Townsville, it is clear there is no actual package available.

"Clearly this is a Claytons program: the assistance package you have when you are not having a package" said Senator Ian Macdonald, Liberal Senator for Queensland.

No arrangements have been made with the States, and it appears from answers given today that the States were in fact not consulted at all regarding the detail, before Swan made the announcement"

Senator Macdonald suggested that this was typical of Labors disregard for stakeholders, especially regional and rural Australians.

If you try to access the relevant web site listed on the Governments promotional material, you are quickly diverted to an alert that "the page cannot be found 404 error". There is even less success on the phone number provided which has a recorded message saying the staff have gone home.

The Minister and his officials confirmed that no detail had yet been completed, and no arrangements yet made with any of the states.

This is no more than another cruel hoax by the Gillard Government on farmers who are at their wits end trying to get help in critical circumstances.

For cattlemen in Queensland, after the triple-whammys of live export ban, fires and then drought, this is a situation where a life-line appears to be thrown, only to find that the life line is not tied to anything substantial at the end.

Nothing could be more debilitating to farmers already under severe emotional stress exacerbating their financial and livelihood stress.

This is just another cruel promise by a government whose lack of morality is exceeded only by their lack of financial accountability.

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