Prime Minister Tony Abbott dashes through a downpour as he meets graziers and community members at the shearing shed of Phillip and Di Ridge of
Prime Minister Tony Abbott dashes through a downpour as he meets graziers and community members at the shearing shed of Phillip and Di Ridge of "Jandra" as part of a drought tour with Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce, near Bourke, NSW, Sunday. Feb. 16, 2014. AAP Image - Andrew Meares

Abbott's drought tour hampered by heavy rain

THE irony of a drought tour being hampered by heavy rainfall wasn't lost on Tony Abbott at the weekend but the Prime Minister was quick to assure farmers he knew the crisis was far from over.

Travelling with Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce, Mr Abbott arrived at the north-western NSW town of Bourke on Sunday morning for the first part of their tour to drought-stricken communities across Australia.

Just moments after their arrival, the heavens opened above the town which has been suffering through a seemingly endless summer.

After meeting with farmers at properties around the region, the pair boarded a plane to Longreach where the rare, isolated storm was producing heavy winds and rain.

The weather forced the cancellation of part of the tour but earlier, at Bourke, Mr Abbott told reporters he was "very conscious" of the fact that the drought was having a serious impact on Australia and that the Federal Government was "close" to finalising a drought package.

The ABC reported the package would address the economic and social needs of people living in drought affected rural and regional Australia.

"It takes time to recover from a period of very intense drought and that it is why it is still important, whatever might happen with rain in the next few weeks, that there be a significant drought position adopted by the Government," Mr Abbott said

"Today is good soaking rain - it doesn't mean that the drought is over but nevertheless, it is very encouraging, it is very hopeful."


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