Australian farmers call on Scott Morrison to return focus to drought

Farmers and their loved ones have taken to social media to return the focus back on drought affected communities. Source: Instagram/TheWestIsWaiting

Farmers have taken to social media to call on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to turn his attention to drought amid calls for the government's drought reports to be made public.

Drought ravaged farmers are demanding Prime Minister Scott Morrison return his focus to the unrelenting dry devastating parts of eastern Australia.

The effects of drought have been felt by rural and regional communities in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania from mass stock losses to low crop yields.

The Instagram page ‘The West is Waiting’ was launched this week and has already garnered a following of over 3,000 people.

The campaign aims to capture the attention of Mr Morrison with posts featuring images of farmers and their loved ones holding signs with the words #scottmorrisonwhereareyou.

“We want Scott Morrison to see this,” one post read.

“We want to flood the internet with images of people, places and businesses that have been, are being or are about to be destroyed by the drought.”

The post continues by expressing the ‘physical, emotional, financial and mental’ toll the drought has had on people working on the land.

“Bush spirit is no longer enough to keep the doors open, the movement is for the people and by the people,” it read.

“We want every shop to have this sign in their window, we want every mailbox to have this sign sitting next to it, we want every car to have this hashtag written in the dust across the back window.”

“So Scott Morrison, where are you?”

Mr Morrison has been contacted for comment.

Last year, Mr Morrison announced a renewed focus on drought policy appointing Major General Stephen Day as drought co-ordinator to lead a task force of rural representatives in the development of new policies.

Former Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce was also made the Prime Minister’s special envoy for drought.

This week the Opposition passed a motion in the Senate ordering the government to make public its drought reports.

Drought Minister David Littleproud responded to Labor's order for documents in the Senate asking for Mr Joyce's final report from his work as drought envoy.

"The request for the former special envoy for drought assistance and recovery's report cannot be complied with as he did not prepare a final report and as such no document exists," he wrote.

But the government says his work has been very useful in developing a number of programs, including a drought strategy to be released next month.

Mr Joyce said in May he was disappointed the role was ditched after the coalition was re-elected.

The Senate order also asked for a final report from the Coordinator-General for Drought, Major General Stephen Day, but the government refused to release it on the grounds it was subject to cabinet deliberations.

A spokesman for Mr Morrison said Mr Joyce met with the prime minister a number of times to discuss his findings from visits to drought-hit communities.

Mr Joyce had also presented his findings to the cabinet, which signed off on a $7 billion plan to respond to the drought.

It is understood Mr Joyce's work specifically informed the extension of the Drought Communities Program, and getting more funding for rural financial counsellors and programs to tackle pests and weeds.

It is also being used to develop a long-term drought strategy expected to be finalised in mid-October.

Mr Littleproud said the government was concerned about deteriorating drought conditions facing farmers and communities across the country.

"The short-term outlook is not good, with rainfall deficiencies and warmer than average temperatures forecast for much of Australia over the next three months," he wrote.

With AAP

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