Much needed assistance
As some regions in Australia enter the fourth year of drought, the federal government has announced changes to the exceptional circumstances drought assistance. Under the amendments, 19 areas in New South Wales, three in Victoria, one in South Australia and two Queensland boards will automatically be re-assessed to see if they are eligible for this assistance. Agriculture minister Peter McGauran said, "... if we were to start from square one, it would delay the process several months.' He added, that they were spending about us $4 million a week on assistance to farmers. The government has also pledged us $243,000 for rural financial counselling services and changed tests so that farmers become eligible for assistance if they had two consecutive crops fail.