Treasurer caps drought tour with cash hint

Matt Coughlan
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DROUGHT TOUR

The Treasurer hinted at more cash flows to farmers, as he toured drought-parched areas in QLD

Josh Frydenberg had to see the drought to believe it.

The federal treasurer stepped on to a cracked dam base on Dino Rizzato's property outside Stanthorpe in southwest Queensland on Friday.

It capped a three-day listening tour with Drought Minister David Littleproud, surveying some of the worst hit regions in Australia.

"You have to see it to believe it," Mr Frydenberg told AAP.

Mr Rizzato's family has had an apple orchard at the farm since the early 1950s but had never seen such a prolonged drought.

There's been criticism of the government's drought policy, with the National Farmers' Federation calling for a coordinated national approach.

But the government rejects suggestions its measures are ad hoc, pointing to "here and now" support alongside plans to drought-proof the nation.

"Regional Australia is at the heart of our country and we need both immediate support and long-term investments in water infrastructure, as we're doing, to support the resilience of these communities into the future," Mr Frydenberg said.

With colourful Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce alongside them, the ministers met the Swan and Dight families in Inverell.

Their efficient cattle and cropping operations are cracking under the pressure of the sky's refusal to give them a break.

They want cash injections to help sustain them until the drought ends.

Mr Frydenberg hinted the government could announce further support in coming months.

"We will do more," he told reporters.

"We're working on some options but what we do know is there is money there already making its way into these communities and we will stand by them through this most difficult time."

Separately, Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters in Tasmania: "The drought is the first call on the budget."

The Morrison government announced on Friday $13.2 million would be brought forward to allow horticulturalists to claim a rebate of 25 per cent up to $25,000 on bores and dams.

But Labor argues that's another piecemeal measure, similar to the $100 million package it announced last week.

"The time for touring is over, the time for action is now," opposition agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon said.

The Melbourne-based treasurer appeared to be visibly affected as he listened to stories of strain, downturn and suicide amid dust and dirt during the trip.

"It's not just economic, it's an emotional roller coaster these people have been on," he told AAP.

"The drought will break and we need to continue to support them through this period."

He acknowledged the role of man-made climate change in contributing to the drought, a topic which has divided coalition MPs in recent years.

Mr Littleproud kept up his attack on states for not getting on with building dams, after touring the Emu Swamp site near Stanthorpe.

He says construction could start within weeks with the Queensland Labor government's cooperation.

"That's all they have to do, pull their finger out and have a red-hot crack with us," he told reporters.