PM grilled as distressing phone call airs
PRIME Minister Scott Morrison has defended the government's response to the drought after a grilling from controversial radio host Alan Jones about a harrowing phone call from a desperate farmer.
This morning on 2GB, host Alan Jones played Scott Morrison a distressing phone call he received late last week from a farmer in Bourke in north-western New South Wales.
In the call, the farmer named as Mark pleaded: "Give us some bloody hope Scott. Tell us that you're going to build a dam, tell us that you're going to put a bloody shovel in the ground".
Speaking through tears, Mark said three of his four children had moved away because of the dry conditions.
"We're dying out here. My town is dying. The country is dying," the farmer said.
When pressed by Jones on what he was doing in the "here and now", Morrison said he was doing "exactly what I told the Australian people I was going to do".
Morrison highlighted the additional $318.5 million provided in support to farmers in the last financial year which he said included the farm house hold allowance and support for mental health and communities.
"On top of that there's the investments we've been making in water infrastructure," he said.
Morrison revealed he called Mark yesterday and "had a great conversation".
"I took him through all the things we were doing," Morrison told Jones.
"At the end of the conversation, he said to me 'that is the hope we were looking for Scott',"
Jones, still not happy with the PM's response, questioned how any of the programs mentioned they would "feed a cow".
"They can't survive today, I'm not talking about long-term viability," Jones said.
"What can you do today by way of a cash injection to individual farmers to enable them to keep their breeding stock and not send thing to the sale yard for slaughter?"
Morrison reiterated his previous answer about programs paid for with the $318.5 million of funding including farm house hold allowance, counselling services and support with weeds while an exasperated Jones continued to yell: "How does that feed a cow?"
"We can do a lot of things to help people try and get through this," Morrison said.
"But the government can't make it rain and the government can't make live as it was before the drought."
Over the weekend it was announced a new reservoir would be built at Dungowan, near Tamworth as part of a $1 billion drought rescue package.
The dam - which will be the first new dam built in the state since 1987 - will be work $480m and secure long-term water supply for 62,200 residents and farms in the Peel Valley.
Without rainfall or intervention, the area is expected to run out of water by June.
The Wyangala Dam will also be expanded by 50 per cent.