QUESTIONS about the future of Australian coal mining and drought were front and centre for Deputy Prime Minister Micheal McCormack during a visit to Gunnedah on Friday.
The Nationals leader attended a breakfast function hosted by the Gunnedah and District Chamber of Commerce and Industry, during which the Deputy Prime Minister also said he would not be making an announcement regarding an upgrade to Grain Valley Road.
“Having seen it first hand several months ago I understand the need for an upgrade of Grain Valley Road,” Mr McCormack told the meeting.
“Unfortunately I did not bring my cheque book with me today.
“We’ll hopefully get there, it’s just about going through the right processes to get there and hopefully next time I am in Gunnedah I will have something positive regarding an upgrade.”
On the subject of the future of the Australian coal industry, Mr McCormack said it was important that all energy sources play a part.
“We don’t want to put one source ahead of another,” he said.
"So while sources like solar and wind are important I feel that we need to make sure all sources and coal power are in the mix.”
His comments come after a motion urging government to move away from fossil fuels was heavily amended, at the Nationals state conference in Cowra, last weekend.
The Minister for Infrastructure and Transport also said the government was consulting with farmers regarding the state’s prolonged drought conditions.
“It is biting and it is biting very hard,” he said.
“Federally we are making sure the farm household assistance packages are extended for another year.”
Mr McCormack said the federal government would continue to look at ways of helping struggling farmers, including the potential introduction of freight subsidies.
“We have unveiled a suite of measures which are going to help farmers at the moment and in the months ahead, but we are certainly looking at what other assistance we can provide in the future,” he said.
Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson echoed the Deputy Prime Minister’s words saying the state government was also looking at ways to help drought stricken farmers.
“There are several things in place at the moment and we will certainly be looking at any other measures we can until this drought is over,” Mr Anderson said.