Labor leader Anthony Albanese has put in a formal request to Scott Morrison, asking that the two parties come together in an emergency joint cabinet arrangement to figure out some solutions to the ongoing Australian drought crisis.
The move comes after Labor agriculture spokesperson Joel Fitzgibbon suggested the concept last week. The National Farmers Federation also called for collaboration within the government on drought action during the week, with chief executive Tony Mahar saying drought action “should be something that is not about political point-scoring”.
It also comes in the wake of the drought assistance payment controversy, in which hundreds of farmers stopped receiving financial assistance after their four year Farm Household Allowance payments wound up. Scott Morrison has since promised a lump sum payment for farmers at the end of the allowance, but has been criticised by Fitzgibbon, who said the move was “not good enough”.
According to the SMH, Albanese’s proposed cabinet would include himself, Morrison, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, Drought Minister David Littleproud, Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie, Social Services Minister Anne Ruston, Barnaby Joyce, South Australian Centre Alliance MP Rebekha Sharkie, Terri Butler, Justine Elliot, Helen Haines, Bob Katter and Joel Fitzgibbon.
“If the drought continues much longer, it could also become a threat to our food security. It is fast becoming a national emergency,” Albanese wrote in his request. “Nothing should be more inviting of bipartisanship than the wrath of Mother Nature.”
The latest drought information from the Australian Bureau Of Meteorology states that rainfall deficiencies have continued, and their long-term effect continues to impact the Murray-Darling Basin in particular, with water storages at extremely low levels.
A spokesperson for Morrison told the SMH he hadn’t received the letter yet and declined to comment on the idea.