Senior ministers tour drought hit NSW, Qld

David Littleproud and Josh Frydenberg are on a three-day visit to drought-affected towns.
David Littleproud and Josh Frydenberg are on a three-day visit to drought-affected towns.

Drought-stricken farmers desperate for a further cash injection to keep businesses alive will have to wait a little longer as the Morrison government weighs its next move.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg met farming families in northern NSW on Thursday, casting his eye over a herd of cattle in a dusty paddock.

"This is a crisis and as one family member said to me before, this is the community's GFC plus some," he told reporters near Inverell.

He said the listening tour had allowed him to see first-hand devastating stories of towns, farmers and communities struggling, including suicides.

The region of NSW the treasurer toured alongside Drought Minister David Littleproud has suffered through four dry years, the worst lean spell on record.

On Thursday, they will also head to the Queensland towns of Warwick and Stanthorpe where water supplies are dwindling and paddocks remain scorched after ongoing drought.

The federal government announced a $100 million package last week which included money to extend and simplify the farm household allowance, a welfare payment for farmers.

There's also been $1 million grants handed out to more than 100 councils for local projects and money put on the table for drought loans through the regional investment corporation.

But farmer Ben Swan told the politicians, including local MP Barnaby Joyce, cash injections were needed to keep families on the land.

"We don't have all the answers just now, otherwise we wouldn't be here," Mr Frydenberg said.

"What we want to do is continue to provide that support as necessary and as needed."

The treasurer said the trip was a powerful reminder of how bad things were.

The knock-on impacts of the agriculture sector's struggles are also rippling through towns.

Mr Frydenberg encouraged businesses to keep on workers where possible and people in cities to spend in drought-hit areas.

"Those staff want to continue to live in these communities but they need a job," he said.

Labor has criticised the coalition for pointing to $7 billion as the headline figure for drought measures.

The bulk of that money - $5 billion - is in a future fund not expected to rise to that figure until 2028/29.

Australian Associated Press