ScoMo on a mission in Queensland
SCOTT Morrison has landed in Longreach - and will later fly to Quilpie - for a day of drought talks with struggling farmers.
Flanked by national drought co-ordinator Major General Stephen Day, key Cabinet ministers and backbenchers, Mr Morrison's first trip to Queensland as PM is symbolic and underscores how drought has become a key political platform for the Coalition.
Unlike his predecessor Malcolm Turnbull, who had a NSW farm in a drought-declared area, Mr Morrison has bluntly declared he did not pretend "to know one end of a sheep from another" but knew when people are hurting in our country".
There are 23 council areas in the 57 per cent of Queensland that has been drought declared.
Many councils are financially struggling to keep towns alive as the drought not only hinders farmers putting food on their own tables but ripples through the local economy.
In a bitter blow, some councils are now increasing rates at a time when farmers can least afford it.
AgForce publicly bristled at South Burnett Council announcing in recent days it would raise rates.
"This surprise rate hike puts unnecessary pressure on producers, and was imposed without any consultation and seemingly little consideration of the impact on local farm businesses or the flow through to other farm-dependent businesses," AgForce said.
"Some producers could end up paying tens of thousands of dollars more in council rates at a time when they can least afford it."
The former Turnbull government announced a drought co-ordinator and extra financial help for farmers.
Mr Morrison revealed yesterday in-exile former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce had been appointed drought envoy.
Major Day will work across all levels of government, business, charities and farmers.
Also, the Farm Household Allowance will increase.