Great to be here in Warwick with David Littleproud at Cassels Automotive to talk to local businesses about the impact that the drought is having on this community. And we just did a lunch at the local chamber of commerce with the local mayor and people who are working for local businesses.
The message from the Morrison Government is that we hear the pain about the impact of drought. This is the most devastating drought in living memory. Now, 95 per cent of New South Wales is impacted, and about two thirds of Queensland. We've had droughts before. We had the Federation Drought, we had the World War II drought, we had the millennium drought. But for people who have been on the land, families that have been on the land for more than century, they say this is the worst it's ever been. But our message today and in Inverell before it, was that the government is providing the support to the people who need it most, and we'll continue to do so.
So not only are we listening to the personal stories, but we're also working out ways that we can continue to act. Ways that we are supporting local communities is through income support, we’re backing local government by supporting not-for-profit organisations and by building the water infrastructure that will provide the drought resilience for communities such as Warwick into the future. So communities such as Warwick are strong, will remain strong, and have the government to rely on.
Well, it's great to have Josh here. What a great nation we live in when you can have the Treasurer of this nation come to a small business, Cassels Automotive, and to listen to a local businessman. This drought is not just about farmers, it's also about small business owners, and we're hearing the lack of confidence in this community because of the lack of water. We are standing committed to build the water infrastructure to rebuild the confidence. The confidence should be there. It will rain, and we should also catch that rain and make sure that these communities have the prosperity they deserve, with the water security they deserve.
It's important that federal government, the $7 billion we put out - the $3 billion for water infrastructure, $7 billion for drought - is complemented by the states. And I call on the premiers who I have written to and asked to pay the rates of small business owners like Cassels Automotive, and also farmers out there, and to think about pay roll tax. The pay roll tax that this business pays means that they do not employ new people in this community. We have seen because of the effects of pay roll tax and drought that this business alone has lost over 12 families out of this town because they can no longer afford to pay them. It's important that we work together. It's important we all do the heavy lifting, I just call on every state to respond to my letter and to actually do some heavy lifting. It's so important to get these communities back up on their feet and to keep farmers going and to keep small businesses going. There is a bright future, it will rain, and when it rains we're going to make some good money. They just need a helping hand now.
Treasurer, just from Sydney, White Ribbon Australia has closed - announced that it's closing today. There's calls for government to step in and support it. Is there anything the Government can do?
Look, I haven't seen those reports. I'll get the further details and ensure there will be an appropriate comment. Any other questions?
Alright, David do you mind just going over [indistinct]?
$33 million. $3000 per farming family to go out to where those charities believe are most deserving, will hit the ground as soon as we can get the mechanism in place to provide confidence to the Australian taxpayer. We are also working through with the Farm Household Allowance to make that more available, to everybody for making sure that the rural financial counselling is on the ground to help them do the paperwork. Just say to people - do not self-assess, do not perpetuate that we are not doing anything. We've had $2 billion out on the table. These programs have been going for some time. Farm Household Assistance is not something new. In fact, we lifted it by $12,000 from $25,000 to $37,000 per family 12 months ago. These aren't new programs. For those out there to say this is too little too late and this is all something new - that's nonsense. We've been on this pony for a long time, and we're going to stay on it until it rains, and we're going to make sure that we get as many families through this as we possibly can. Because they’ll have a mechanism. No one will go without [indistinct] in this country. We have a safety net that is there to protect them, and we'll continue to make sure that they are protected.
We're seeing dairy farmers leave the industry [inaudible]… quite a few that are selling their cows [inaudible]… There are concerns about that - that the money's not going to come in soon enough for those guys to keep working in the industry. Is there anything immediate the government can do?
Well obviously, I'm no friend of the supermarkets, in fact when I was Agriculture Minister I was the one that stood up to them and said that they needed to do some heavy lifting with the processes. They have a mechanism in place in which they can get a levy that they actually created and the [inaudible] payments straight back to those farmers tomorrow, if they wanted to. Coles and Woolworths and the big German could do it in a heartbeat. If they were interested, they would do it. And I put the pressure on them and broke the dollar litre milk. All farmers want, they’re not charities, they just want a fair price for their commodity, and that's what we're asking for. And I think it's not just the responsibility of the federal government to help, it's the responsibility of all of us. And these corporates particularly supermarkets, have the responsibility more so than the federal government. Because you know what? They won't have the best dairy products in the world unless they do some heavy lifting with us, unless the processes do some heavy lifting with us. We've set in place a mechanism where they can do it, and I call on them to do a bit as well. Start lifting a finger. We've lifted a fair bit; $7 billion worth of support, we'll continue to be there with the dairy industry and any other industry that needs support to get them through this drought.