GAYLE TIERNEY (Western Victoria – Minister for Training and Skills, Minister for Higher Education, Minister for Agriculture) (12:09): Today I would like to draw attention to the incredible resilience of our regional communities and especially our farmers and growers who underpin our agricultural industry. They are a community and sector who face continual challenges, as the forces of nature impact all that they do. This has never been more evident than during the devastating floods of October last year and of course during the significant hailstorms that have impacted the Goulburn Valley fruitgrowers. This government understands the profound impact that floods and storm events have on communities and that recovery is a long process and so much more than a clean-up.
I am proud that this government has responded swiftly, with strong flood recovery programs which provided not only financial support but also important counselling services. Our initial flood relief grant program was more than $19 million and was followed by an Australian and Victorian governments $877 million recovery support package, which was announced in November last year. And I am now pleased to advise that primary producers who have suffered a significant loss of income as a direct result of the 2022 floods will be eligible for primary producer flood recovery concession loans of up to $100,000.
We understand that the road to recovery takes more than a grant program, and I am proud of the role of Agriculture Victoria and the role that it has played in supporting our farming communities to navigate through these challenging times. I would also like to acknowledge the incredible work of emergency services and the many, many organisations that have been dedicated to supporting the wellbeing of our farming families and communities right across Victoria.