Drought summit may be just a talkfest, fears NSW Ag Minister

Blair seeks Federal tax concessions for farmers at summit


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NSW Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair wants concrete action to come out of Friday's drought summit in Canberra.

NSW Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair wants concrete action to come out of Friday's drought summit in Canberra.

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NSW says it has reached end of line in drought assistance

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NSW Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair fears Friday’s drought summit in Canberra will be a talkfest with 150 people expected to attend the meeting at Old Parliament House. “That will give them about two minutes each to speak,” he says.

Instead Mr Blair is taking two firm tax-related proposals to Canberra he will will put on the table that he believes will ease financial stress for farmers.

He says NSW has reached almost endgame in how far it can support farmers with drought assistance measures. The game on in NSW now is recovery and drought proofing for the future – including water security, with new dams, speeding up council water project applications and new water pipelines to towns such as Coonabarabran.

He says though the Federal Government can do more now to ease the pain of the drought.

The major initiatives he wants them to look at are allowing a 150 per cent tax deduction on multi-peril crop insurance, also he wants farmers to be able to speed up depreciation of the assets on farm. These measures  will be a big help, he says.

He also says the Federal Farm Assistance scheme needs to be streamlined as it is causing too much red tape and paperwork for farmers.

“We’ve done everything we can for drought assistance in NSW,” he said. “But there is more the Feds can sign off on for instance in insurance, with multi-peril crop insurance offering tax deductibility on that, also the rate farmers can depreciate their assets should be speeded up.

“To be frank I’m a little bit fearful this summit will be a talkfest. We’ve come to the end of in-drought support (in NSW), we’ve covered that. It’s time for the Feds to show some leadership.”

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