Rockliff pours water on Green drought plea

Primary Industries Minister Jeremy Rockliff
Primary Industries Minister Jeremy Rockliff

LABOR leader Bryan Green has "made a complete goose of himself" by asking the government to declare a drought, Primary Industries Minister Jeremy Rockliff said.

Mr Green urged the government to declare a drought on Sunday, despite the former primary industries minister signing an Intergovernmental Agreement with then-federal Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig in 2013, which ruled there should not be "exceptional circumstances" drought declarations.

A spokesman for Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said the agreement meant state and territory governments (apart from Queensland) no longer declared droughts, and that federal drought assistance was no longer tied to state drought declarations.

The spokesman said $10 million in drought concessional loans would be made available to Tasmanian farmers affected by drought later in 2016.

Mr Rockliff said Mr Green had clearly forgotten he had signed Tasmania up to the intergovernmental agreement in 2013, and said the opposition leader "did not have a clue" when it came to helping farmers.

A Labor spokesman said Mr Green was seeking government acknowledgment of how serious dry conditions were for Tasmanian farmers when he called for a drought to be declared.

"Whether Jeremy Rockliff wants to use the word drought or not, he should be doing more to assist farmers who are doing it extremely tough."