Member for Morwell Russell Northe has used Question Time in Parliament this week to place more
pressure upon the Andrews Government to extend drought support measures to Latrobe Valley
farmers and families.
“Over the past few months I have received many calls and emails from local farmers who are doing
it tough due to these awful drought conditions, and it is heartbreaking to hear of their pain”, said Mr
“I’ve been calling for measures to be put into place for months (see attached media article)”, Mr
Northe said. “The reality is that we have farmers on the ground who have very little feed and water
for their animals, and even if they can get their hands on feed – the price can well be out of their
“Whilst some Government assistance and support has been announced for farmers based in
Wellington and East Gippsland Council areas and rightly so, the facts are that this drought doesn’t
have an arbitrary line at Council boundaries”, Mr Northe continued.
“In some cases in our region, we have the situation whereby a farmer on one side of the road is
eligible for Victorian Government assistance, yet the farmer on the other side of the road is not, and
this is simply due to which Council area they reside in”, Mr Northe explained.
Below are some examples where Latrobe City farmers are excluded from Victorian Government
- Pasture Recovery and Management Grant Program
- On-Farm Drought Infrastructure Support Grants
- Farm Business Assistance Program
“The bottom line is that the effects of the drought are widespread”, said Mr Northe, “and on that
basis, the State Government must provide funding and support for all those affected not just in
Mr Northe has also requested the State Government provide Local Government rate relief for
Latrobe City farmers.
“The many farmers I have spoken to within the Morwell electorate are not only saying these are the
worst conditions they have ever seen, they are also telling me the most practical support that can be
provided is to be exempt from paying Council rates for 12 months”, said Mr Northe.
“This is where we need the State Government to step up to the plate and provide real tangible and
worthwhile assistance to our farmers – who need help right now”.
“In 2008, the State Government provided rate relief to Latrobe City farmers and now in the very
worst of conditions these same supports should be applied”, said Mr Northe, (attached is a media
release from the then Minister for Agriculture outlining the rate subsidies provided in 2008).
“For approximately $2.6 million this rate relief initiative would allow Latrobe City farmers to spend
their own money on specific areas of need such as feed, water cartage costs and cost of living
expenses rather than paying the Council” said Mr Northe.
“I know this initiative has been called for by other Members of Parliament within Wellington and East
Gippsland Council areas, and I firmly support the same in its application Latrobe City farmers as well”,
Mr Northe said.
“In Parliament this week, the Premier himself made this commitment:
“the government will continue to provide support—real support, not just politically convenient
support—to all drought-affected farmers.”
“Well, I’m calling upon the Premier and his Government, to deliver on this commitment to all droughtaffected
farmers”, Mr Northe said. “That’s why I’ve pleaded for equal access to drought support for
Latrobe City farmers, and for the State Government to provide immediate rate relief for these hard
“In addition, I remain concerned the lack of support being provided to those organisations who are
doing their best to support our farming communities” he said. Earlier this year Mr Northe requested
the Minister for Agriculture Jaclyn Symes provide funding to the Gippsland Farmer Relief (GFR)
organisation, in order for this wonderful local charity to continue to support struggling farming
families in the Gippsland region.
“To be frank, the answer from the Minister concluded that no funding would be forthcoming for
GFR. This is extremely disappointing to say the least, particularly given the invaluable work GFR and
other like-minded organisations are providing on the ground,” said Mr Northe.