An astonished farmer has revealed he told Scott Morrison to ‘p*** off’ when the PM called him to discuss drought.
Mark Hollman, from Bourke in northern New South Wales, appeared on Alan Jones’ 2GB radio show last week and begged the PM to help struggling farmers.
Mr Morrison heard his heartbreaking plea and later phoned Mr Hollman directly.
Mark Hollman, from Bourke in north New South Wales, was interviewed by 9NewsWatch’s Sylvia Jeffreys (both pictured)
The former citrus farmer, who now runs the local swimming pool, told 9News he could scarcely believe it when he heard the PM on the line.
‘He said ‘Hello Mark’ and I said ‘Yes?’
‘He said “It’s Prime Minister Scott” and I actually said “P off”. I can’t believe I told a prime minister to P off.’
After the rocky, start, Mr Hollman said the pair had a ‘frank and honest’ discussion.
I can’t believe I told a prime minister to P off
‘We talked for about 35 minutes. We talked about our families – I told him about my family, about my kids,’ he said.
Mr Hollman had told Jones that three of his four children no longer live in Bourke – but he clarified to Mr Morrison that he wanted them to leave.
‘It’s not that our kids wanted to move away, it’s that our family had to force our kids to move away for their future,’ he said.
‘We don’t want them living in this hell out here. And believe me… it’s hell out here mate.’
Mr Hollman said that the situation was so bad that farmers were struggling with their mental health.
‘The mental health, it’s real. People need to understand that,’ he said.
Crop farmer Neil Westcott walks across his failed Canola crop near Parkes, Tuesday, August 14, 2018
‘This is fair dinkum out here mate. It’s the worst it’s ever been. There’s no coming back from this if we don’t do something.’
During an interview with Jones on Tuesday morning, the prime minister revealed that he had chatted to Mr Hollman and cheered him up.
The father of four confirmed this, saying: ‘The Prime Minister was very supportive.’
‘He explained his situation. He reassured me of what he’s got planned and what’s coming up. And it surprised me and I took it on-board,’ Mr Hollman said.
‘If you’re asking me did I sleep better and did he give me a bit of hope? The answer is yes, he did.
‘We’re a long way from a solution but there was a bit of hope after that conversation.’
During Alan Jones’ show last week Mr Hollman said he had ‘no hope’ as he pleaded for help from the government.
Bourke is in a state of intense drought and the farmer cried as he told of how three of his children had already left home because the situation was so bleak.
In a raw outpouring of desperation, the farmer begged Scott Morrison to lift his town out of devastation.
‘At the last election I voted for Morrison because I thought he was our hope,’ he said.
‘We’re a real tough mob. We have put up with drought and dust storms but we always have hope.
‘But now we have got none – give us some bloody hope Scott! Tell us you are going to build a dam, tell us you’re going to put a shovel in the bloody ground!’
‘We’re dying out here. My town is dying.’
The farmer recalled a conversation with his son, pleading for him to come home to see his parents.
‘I say to my son ‘when are you going to come home to see me and Mum mate?’ He says ‘why, there’s nothing out there’.’
Pictured: Drought affected land in Stanthorpe on Queensland’s southern border
‘I want my kids to come home Alan!’
Applauding the man for his bravery in speaking about his plight in public, Jones said Mark had become a ‘metaphor’ for the drought.
‘Mark, you’ve made a massive contribution to the cause because the emotion you demonstrated and the passion with which you spoke is emblematic of every farmer across this country.
Last year, the period 2019-2021 was predicted to be very likely the driest period in the Australian climate for over 200 years.
In May 2019, 98.6 per cent of New South Wales and 65.2 per cent of Queensland was declared to be in a state of drought.
‘Don’t talk to me – I’m a farmer’s son, you’re not’: Scott Morrison’s most loyal voters turn on him after ‘diabolical’ interview with Alan Jones over Australia’s drought crisis
Alan Jones furiously rowed with Scott Morrison about drought relief for farmers in an explosive interview on Tuesday morning, sparking loyal voters to turn on the PM.
In one particularly heated moment, the radio host interrupted Mr Morrison and bluntly told him: ‘Oh don’t talk to me, I’m a farmer’s son and you’re not.’
After the interview Jones was overrun with calls from listeners, many of whom voted Liberal, as they lined up to slam the Prime Minster, calling him ‘arrogant’ and a ‘waste of space’.
A fired-up Jones was urging the PM to do more to help farmers who cannot afford feed and water to keep livestock alive.
Alan Jones furiously rowed with Scott Morrison (pictured) about drought relief for farmers in an explosive interview on Tuesday morning, sparking loyal voters to turn on the PM
‘These people, Prime Minister, cannot survive today,’ Jones said angrily.
‘They are sending the breeding stock to the sale yard to be slaughtered, they’re walking off their farms.
‘They need cash now. Now. Just as we gave a billion dollars to Indonesia over a tsunami. This is a drought tsunami.’
Mr Morrison explained that he couldn’t make it rain and that $318million has already helped in the past year.
‘The direct cash grant support is going into farming communities, including directly to farmers,’ Mr Morrison said.
How does that feed a cow?
Jones repeatedly asked the PM
But Jones interrupted, saying: ‘They’re not getting it!’
Mr Morrison continued: ‘Alan, if you could let me finish. There’s $318.5 million…’
‘I don’t know where the money is Prime Minister,’ Jones interjected.
As Mr Morrison tried to make his point, Jones cut in with a blunt remark: ‘Oh don’t talk to me, I’m a farmer’s son and you’re not.’
Mr Morrison continued trying to explain how aid has helped while a frustrated Jones kept interjecting and asking: ‘How does that feed a cow?’
Jones then criticised the Farm Household Allowance scheme, which gives farmers fortnightly payments and, in some cases, lump sum payments of up to $12,000.
‘You say Farm Household Allowance. Now PM, come on. You go and tell Jenny that she can live on $250 a week,’ Jones said.
‘It’s not $250 a week Alan. It’s not just that,’ Mr Morrison replied.
Jones (pictured) angrily interrupted the PM several times during the interview
‘If you live in the city, and your business goes bust or you lose your job, then you have access to Newstart. But if you are on a farm property and you get access to the Farm Household Allowance.’
Jones did not accept his answer and pressed the PM further by asking: ‘Why are they walking off? Why are they sending their cattle to slaughter?’
‘Because of the drought, that’s why,’ said the PM.
Mr Morrison then admitted he couldn’t save farmers from some hardship.
‘The government, whether it’s state, federal or anyone else, we can do a lot of things to try and help people get through this. But the government can’t make it rain, and it can’t make life as it was before the drought,’ he said.
‘We both want the same thing. We want the farmers to be able to get through this drought. But we can’t kid ourselves that there’s a magic wand and a magic cash splash that’s going to make this thing totally solved.’
At times during the interview, Jones became exasperated as he repeatedly interrupted the Prime Minister and sighed and tutted when Mr Morrison spoke.
Despite Jones’ combative stance, 2GB listeners said they were disappointed by the Prime Minister.
One named Robert said: ‘My blood’s boiling after hearing that. Complete failure as a Prime Minister. He’s arrogant. They’ve been conning the public after the election.’
Another named Michelle added: ‘I’m a dairy farmer’s daughter. That interview should sign the end of his Prime Ministership. Just absolutely diabolical.’
One listener named Chris said: ‘Today we’ve nailed him to a post. He’s a failure.’
Some of the 2GB listeners said they had voted for Mr Morrison in the election in May, bringing him victory against the odds for which he credited ‘quiet Australians’.
He was referring to rural, regional and older Australians who go about their business without making a fuss or sharing their opinions before polling day.