PM Turnbull Promises Emergency Relief to Drought-Stricken Farmers in Regional Australia

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PM Turnbull Promises Emergency Relief to Drought-Stricken Farmers in Regional Australia

Malcolm Turnbull has dismissed suggestions Australia abandon global emission reduction targets because they won't help struggling farmers deal with the worst drought in years.

Nearly 20,000 people are yet to apply for the federal government's $190 million drought relief package, which has been panned as "too little, too late" by critics.

Instead of low-interest loans and cashback subsidies, the federal government is, for the first time, giving out lump-sum cash payments.

"We, as a government, are right there by their side, right behind them, and supporting them all the way".

Drought-awareness campaigner Edwina Robertson is also anxious the money simply isn't enough.

A few weeks back Crikey optimistically wondered if, by emphasising the need for resilience on the part of farmers in the face of drought and climate change, Malcolm Turnbull was ushering in a new, more sensible approach to drought relief. "My great-grandfather settled on this land in 1901, and he never had to remove cattle from the paddocks over there", she says pointing to the west.

"We want to keep body and soul together, and that will flow cash into the local communities".

McCormack echoed the prime minister and acknowledged the important role farmers have in the nation.

"(But) we haven't got the same urban or town water shortage challenges we had in the millennium drought", he told the ABC.

Former deputy PM Barnaby Joyce yesterday weighed into the climate change debate and said dams were a better solution while claiming the government's action would do nothing to stop the drought.

"It's like you've got a normal environment turned into a desert environment", he told Sky News.

"It will have no difference on the climate whatsoever - zero, zip, nothing".

The National Farmers' Federation welcomed the news.

Ms Simpson said Australia needed to understand the effects of climate change to continue as a world leader.

"Australian farmers are not helpless".

"You put the food on our tables, the fibre that goes on our backs and we have your back - we're supporting you, " Mr Turnbull said.

Their concerns have been echoed by NSW agriculture minister Niall Blair, who is anxious attention on farmers shooting animals or leaving them to starve will undermine Australia's standing as a meat-producing nation.

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