Australia

Labor says government's drought funding won't flow this year

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese says Raheem Kassam's visa is a matter for Australia's politicians, not the Trump family. Source: AAP

The Morrison government wants Parliament to approve its $3.9 billion drought package.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese is resisting pressure to back the government's $3.9 billion drought package, arguing it should not come at the expense of an existing infrastructure fund. 

On Monday, the government will reintroduce legislation to set up a Future Drought Fund with $3.9 billion for drought-proofing projects.

The fund has already been knocked down once by Labor, which takes issue with the government's plan to take cash for it away from an existing infrastructure kitty.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese says there's no rush to pass a drought package as the money is not slated to flow for 12 months.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese says there's no rush to pass a drought package as the money is not slated to flow for 12 months.
AAP

The Government's Senate Leader Mathias Cormann said the legislation was a test for Labor. 

"This is the time for the Labor party to show leadership and show who's side they are really on," Senator Cormann told reports on Monday. 

Labor Leader Anthony Albanese said there was no rush to pass the legislation. 

"It won't flow this week, it won't flow this month, it won't even flow this year. It won't flow this financial year," Mr Albanese said on Monday.  

Labor wants the money to come from general revenue, rather than the Building Australia fund which was set up by Labor to fund road and rail projects. 

Drought Minister David Littleproud said the Building Australia fund had failed to deliver a dividend in five years. 

"It's done three parts of bugger all," he said. 

The government also wants to pass laws to deal with farm invaders and those deemed to be encouraging such actions, which could result in up to five years' imprisonment.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the Daily Telegraph Bush Summit 2019 in Dubbo, 390km north west of Sydney, Thursday, July 18, 2019. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING

Labor wants to see a final Senate committee report on the laws before it decides whether to back them.

The Opposition supports the intention of the bill - to protect farmers from trespassers - but is worried it may have unintended consequences.

"Questions have been raised about the significant overlap between this bill and existing state criminal laws, and whether this bill in fact improves protections for farmers," a spokesman for Labor legal affairs spokesman Mark Dreyfus told The Australian.

The Greens said there are already laws to deal with such crimes.

"The concern here is that we've seen this government take us closer to a police state with passage of a range of laws that hand over more power to authorities with a whole range of unintended consequences," Richard Di Natale told ABC Insiders on Sunday.

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