THE federal government will hold a national drought summit this month, but it won’t be in Tamworth: the Prime Minister has knocked back Barnaby Joyce’s request for it to be held in the city.
One hundred influential people will be invited to the forum on October 26, to discuss short- and long-term strategies.
“I had a meeting with the Prime Minister Scott Morrison and suggested [Tamworth],” the New England MP said.
“He said no. It’s going to be in Canberra and – to be quite frank – to bring the people in, it’s the second-best option.
“I told the Prime Minister: do not have an empathy tour or an empathy discussion.
“We are over empathy discussions; we need a discussion where, at the end of it, you go out and announce something.”
It would have been difficult for Tamworth to host the event, with the city facing an accommodation crisis on the same weekend of the forum.
Up to 15,000 people will flood the city, for the Hay Mate drought-relief concert and the annual Jehovah’s Witness Convention at TRECC.
Mr Joyce said he was trying to get people from the region to be part of the forum.
Tamworth Regional Council mayor Col Murray didn’t hesitate to put his hand up to be one of those people.
“You’ll be really pleased to know that I’ve just checked my diary, and I do have an available day for the drought summit in Canberra,” Cr Murray told Mr Joyce with a grin, at a recent Tamworth Business Chamber event.
“I’d love to have the opportunity to represent our farmers and our small businesses, and the RU Aware We Care group, at that summit.”
Mr Morrison said the drought remained his top priority, with a focus on both immediate relief and ensuring communities could recover and rebuild.
“That summit will provide an opportunity to get a status update on everything that is being done, both at the state and commonwealth level,” Mr Morrison said.
The government’s latest drought-relief measure passed the lower house last week, allowing farmers to immediately deduct the cost of fodder storage assets, making it easier to stockpile.
The heavy-vehicle legislation has also been changed, to allow trucks carrying feed to go across state borders without altering their load weight.