THE state has been put on notice, the NSW Government will target anyone attempting to take advantage of farmers during the crippling drought, minister for primary industries Niall Blair says.
Currently, 99 per cent of the state has been declared in drought or drought-affected and the lack of rain has led to crippling conditions for many primary producers.
On Monday Mr Blair – along with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Deputy Premier John Barilaro and Bathurst MP Paul Toole – visited a farm in Newbridge south-west of Bathurst to announce a new $500 million drought assistance package.
During the announcement, Mr Blair said anyone who attempted to take advantage during the drought would be closely monitored.
“We’re certainly not going to tolerate anyone taking advantage of our farmers during this drought,” he said.
“Whether that’s food prices or whether that’s people trying to take advantage of transport subsidies.”
Mr Blair said the NSW Government would be working closely with a number of entities to ensure rules were followed and advantage was not gained over farmers who were struggling.
“We’ll be working not only with the ACCC [Australian Competition and Consumer Commission] to make sure that if food prices in our supermarkets increase, we want to make sure that that is passed on to the farm gate,” he said.
“In relation to the transport subsidies, we have caps in place and we’ll also have a team embedded with our department working with agencies like the [NSW Police] Fraud Squad to make sure that people aren’t taking advantage of our farmers.
“Every farming business in NSW is doing it tough and we’re not going to tolerate anyone gaming the system at the expense of our farmers so everyone is on notice.”
Ms Berejiklian backed the minister’s words and said the widespread drought had entered an “uncharted territory”.
“The deputy premier and the minister [Mr Blair] have also been in touch with the freight providers, as in the transport companies, to talk to them about making sure that once the drought does break we don’t see an excessive increase in prices which was always our concern,” she said.
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