While the drought continues to hit the Nationals’ constituents hard, the party faces testing terrain on a political level.
In this episode of Politics with Michelle Grattan, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack acknowledges the mishandling of the bring-forward of the dairy code, which will increase the negotiating power of milk producers.
Tensions blew up in the Nationals party room this week after Pauline Hanson managed last week to win an acceleration of the code. The deal was all about the government wanting Hanson’s Senate co-operation. But agriculture minister Bridget McKenzie had previously told Nationals who have been fighting for the code that it couldn’t be finalised until well into next year.
McCormack also shared his willingness to consider a proposal from the drought policy released by the National Farmers’ Federation for exit assistance for drought-stricken farmers who sell.
But he had a cautionary message for those deciding whether to stay or leave, saying “they absolutely need to make sure they don’t self-assess. They need to absolutely make sure that they consult their families foremost, that they talk to rural financial counsellors, they talk to their accountants, their banks. They take every bit of good advice available before they take that ultimate step”.
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AAP/ Mick Tsikas
Authors: Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra