They say every cloud has a silver lining. One ongoing headache for the Howard Government is finding new and politically-palatable ways of shunting huge chunks of cash over to Queensland's sugar farmers. Remember the half a billion they got after the US Free Trade Agreement? Remember Howard's sneaky ethanol plan? Remember that for more than ten years governments of all stripes have been telling (and paying!) sugar farmers to sell up, modernise or change crops?
Now Howard and his agrarian-socialist coalition partner have found the perfect vehicle in Tropical Cyclone Larry "compensation". The farmers could have bought crop insurance, but were not prepared to pay the fair market price (Business, 22/3/06). Why would they when Howard's on the radio stating that it's an uninsurable risk?
Effectively picking up the insurance tab for Queensland's sugar farmers is just the latest method by which the Coalition shores up their support with taxpayer largesse.