Mixed reply to PM's drought promise in Qld

Sonia Kohlbacher
Farmers in QLD are cautious about whether the government's drought package will keep them going

Queensland farmers waiting out the drought have welcomed the federal government's promise to ease their financial burdens.

Others fear it is yet another promise that sounds hopeful but doesn't make a change to their hip pockets.

Small businesses tied to the farming sector will get access to cheap loans and existing concessional loans will be easier to take out under the Morrison government's drought plan.

Farmers facing dirt plains and shrinking herds across large swathes of drought-declared Queensland are feeling the pinch.

"The government needs to stop announcing rubbish policies and put their money where their mouth is," Scott Todd said.

"They can keep promising billions of dollars in drought funding but the thing is most people aren't eligible for it."

The father-of-three runs thousands of sheep and goats seven hours of west of Brisbane, and 700 head of mixed cattle smack bang in the state's bone dry centre.

If he can get a loan, he will, but says holding back rates bills for drought-affected farmers is the simplest way to give them relief.

Patrick Hick lost 6000-head of cattle and critical farming infrastructure when floodwaters washed through his western Queensland property earlier this year.

The Julia Creek grazier said it would be a win for farmers if loans could be used to restructure existing debts.

"We are seeing a few people reach that point where they don't have the financial resources to go on, and probably the will," he said.

"It is fairly draining and debilitating."

For six years he has waited for rain, but is refusing to hang up his boots, convinced the skies will open and the big dry will break

"Most of us have had a few tricks up our sleeve all the way along," he added.

"Now it feels like we're running out of tricks, we're really at the business end, the tough end now.'

Skilled workers are walking away from the apple, stonefruit and vegetable crops in Granite Belt in Queensland's southeast.

The region's horticulture industry turns over $300 million a year but as water has become scarce, so too have the jobs.

Amanda Harrold, secretary of the Stanthorpe and Granite Belt Chamber of Commerce, said her community can't afford to give up.

"The flow on effect of that is families move away, so there are less kids at the school, we might lose teachers, we might not keep some services at the hospital," she said.

"Just keeping the farmers ticking over is extremely important for our community."

"We are always going to have these challenges and we can't just shut the doors."