AS the federal government begins to roll out its $130 billion JobKeeper wage subsidy package, many farmers across the region are concerned they might not be eligible.
However, New England MP Barnaby Joyce has confirmed farmers struggling to prove they have suffered a 30 per cent downturn in business may have a lifeline in the form of the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
"The Attorney General has clearly stated that a business currently dealing with COVID-19 downturn and formerly had to deal with the drought downturn, have the capacity to apply to the ATO for discretion, so that they can gain access to the $1500 per fortnight per employee," Mr Joyce said on Thursday morning.
"Of course that relies on the less than $1 billion income, which I imagine would apply to most businesses in our area.
"Some people have brought this up with me already and I am asking those people to utilisie that ATO discretion.
"Make your applications to the ATO, so that if you believe there wouldn't have been a downturn because of the drought, you would have been entitled to the 30 per cent reduction by reason of COVID-19."
The JobKeeper wage subsidy was approved by the Senate on Wednesday night and will pave the way for up to six million Australians to access the payments.
"On a government level, we have put forward the biggest stimulus package in this country's history," Mr Joyce said.
"What this will allow is businesses with less than $1 billion turnover, and who have had more than a 30 per cent reduction in their income earning capacity, by reason of COVID-19, to get access to $1500 per employee per fortnight."
Mr Joyce said while the package would help Australians in the short term, it would cause the country to fall into considerable debt in the future.
"Now, we have had a lot of people outside the system say they want to be part of the system, especially casuals," he said.
"The problem we've got, is the wider we make the net, the more it costs the taxpayer.
"Any money that is in this stimulus package, will predominately be borrowed and has to be repaid by you.
"You have to pay it back; governments don't have money, only you have money.
"At a time in the future, there will be further taxes and further mechanisms put on you to pay the money back.
"I've got to say that to be straight with people, to be honest with people.
"We need to make people understand we can't just go completely overboard.
"I believe we will have a debt at the end of this of about $1 trillion at a federal level.
"That includes current debt and what's going on top and the interest bill on that is going to be massive.
"To pay that back is going to be so hard, because we had half-of-a-trillion dollars worth of debt already and we were just getting to the part where we were starting to repay it."