“We care”, but how far will this money go?

It hasn’t rained enough to break the drought, and after Sunday’s trip to Trangie people aren’t feeling any great change in the political weather either.

It’s the second time in as many months the Prime Minister has visited the Miles’ Strathmore property in Trangie.

“We are listening, we are with you, we feel the challenges you have,” he said.

While most would be grateful for the increases to the Farm Household Allowance and increasing the asset means test as part of the $190 million package, it comes with the gripping reality that it won’t solve all of their problems and they will have to somehow hold on until the rain breaks the drought.

How far will $6,000 in the pockets of farmers actually go? Will it take them through to the next installment in March? What about the people who aren’t eligible for the Farm Household Allowance, but are being forced to take desperate measures.

The PR exercises, they’re about “showing-up” and most importantly showing the voters “out there doing it tough” that “they care”. The morning didn’t add much to the decisions already made in Canberra.

The PM’s press team give an overall impression of “don’t be difficult” even though they invited you there to the press conference in the first place. 

A cacophony of questions were hurled in his direction, elbows-out to get under the PM’s skin, to get the answers the readers want. Yet it seemed all too quickly wrapped up by the press team. The coverage was restricted to the press conference, apart from some heavily staged walking and talking and standing around hands on hips, looking down at the drought-ridden hard earth.

Every moment was steered to ensure their message gets through over all others. ‘Staying on message’ doesn’t offer much the farmers, the local businesses and the rural communities which need their government to deliver.

There was an insistence on political sunshine when people actually want rain in the form of greater substance. 

How many times can people be told they’re resilient and they’re important because they put the food on our tables, the fibre on our backs while they face the real and devastating consequences of an unforgiving drought and a climate that is becoming more invariable than not.

Mal may not be able to make it rain, but he sure can do more to help our rural communities.