I thank the member for her question. She may be interested to know that, in the year 2017, the amount paid out under the Farm Household … Allowance was $33,735,000. In the numbers we received this morning, the number was $114,00155,000.
Since since the drought summit of last year, as I referred to in an earlier answer today, we have made some very significant changes to the Farm Household Allowance. And we didn’t make those changes unilaterally. The minister for drought, then minister for agriculture, commissioned a review of the Farm Household Allowance and went out and spoke directly to all those affected in the sector through that independent review process.
That independent review process recommended that we go from three years to four years – and for that four years to be four in every 10. Four in every 10. I remind the member that, when the Labor party was in power, it was three years only – for life, Mr Speaker. Three years for life. The member for Hunter.
We increased that to four years in 10, and we are now, in this year most recently completed, we have put $114.2 million to support those families and to ease up on the compliance requirements and the assessment requirements that has enabled more of those families – some 6,000 now – which, when Labor was in, numbered only around 300 or thereabouts, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I hear before that the drought had just started.
… We learnt in Queensland today, in the minister for drought’s electorate, it’s been going for eight years. It’s been going for eight years, Mr Speaker.
So in all of that period of time, what we have done – and what we have most recently done through the National Drought Summit – has been to increase access to that payment. And we will continue to consult closely with the community when it comes to making any further changes if they are considered necessary.
But we’re acting in accordance with the advice, Mr Speaker, and the head of the farmers in Queensland has been very, very clear about the need to maintain those arrangements as they’ve been set.
So we’re going to listen to the farmers and listen to the rural communities, and that’s why, in just the last few weeks, since we sat in this place, we’ve put – together with the New South Wales government – over $1 billion into new dams and upgraded dams.
We’ve put, Mr Speaker, over $60 million into additional farm household assistance just since we have come back to this parliament. On top of that, we’ve put an additional $14 million into drought-affected local government areas to ensure that we can keep those local economies moving. Mr Speaker, we will continue to respond to the drought as and when and each and every day as we need to, and that will go on into the future with our full support.