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Uncertainty over $50m in drought donations

Uncertainty surrounds around $50 million in charitable donations meant for struggling farmers, with the federal government unsure how many properties are affected.

National Drought Coordinator Major General Stephen Day said he didn’t know how many farms were drought-stricken, but had a “pretty good handle” on the number of regions feeling the pain.

He said drought charities had received $50 million in donations, with $30 million doled out to farmers so far.

Asked where the donations were, Maj Gen Day told 2GB: “It’s not my money, it’s money owned by charities.”

“There are a lot of charities. I actually don’t know how many there are, I don’t know if anyone does.”

Maj Gen Day admitted information on drought assistance program wasn’t reaching farmers in an adequate way.

“That’s one of the key problems we face across the country – there’s a lack of fidelity of information at the ground level to advise governments at all levels as to what they should be doing,” he said.

He said his role included trying to identify gaps in policy and getting charities together.

Farmers in NSW and Queensland are worst affected by the drought, which is sweeping large swathes of eastern Australia.

“There’s no doubt there are some people who are doing it very tough out there,” Maj Gen Day said.

“This one’s got on top of them. There is something a bit different about this one.”

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