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Tony Abbott flies into drought-affected areas, bringing relief ... and also the rain

It is said that one way to break a drought is to announce the construction of a monster desalination plant that is thereby doomed to lie dormant as rain fill the reservoirs.

Another way might be to dispatch the Prime Minister to inspect the dustbowl that inland regions of Queensland and NSW are fast becoming. Or at least they were, before Tony Abbott's tour of Bourke in northern NSW and Longreach in Queensland's central west on Sunday.

Both towns had merely a fraction of their normal rains until the Prime Minister, Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce and an entourage descended from the skies, along with the rain.

Mr Abbott had barely begun to tell assembled graziers in a woolshed at Jandra station outside Bourke that a package of drought assistance to provide immediate and longer term help for farmers ''was days away'' from being finalised when the downpour arrived.

Bourke and surrounds ended up with more than 30 millimetres of rain in an hour or so, the most since November 2012, according to Weatherzone.

Before Sunday, farmers such as Meredith Thompson from a nearby sheep and cotton farm had recorded as little as 34 millimetres for all of last year and very little this year.


Ms Thompson said that when Governor-General Quentin Bryce visited the region several years ago, the heavens opened up. ''We probably need more political figures to visit us as they bring all the rain.''

The convoys barely escaped the quagmire. MP Mark Coulton's vehicle got deeply bogged and Mr Joyce ended up covered in mud.

Next stop Longreach was also hit by rain, forcing a quick relocation of a meeting of graziers from an outback station to the Stockman's Hall of Fame.

The PM could not claim to have brought all the rain.

Nearby regions had barely 50 millimetres for all last year but last week received almost as much in a day before Sunday's fresh falls, local grazier Rosemary Champion said. ''Still, we have a saying: it doesn't rain money,'' she said.

Despite Sunday's soaking in regions Mr Abbott visited, ''it doesn't mean the drought is over'', he said.

''We are close to finalising a drought package which will address the economic and social needs of the people of rural and regional Australia that have been significantly affected.''

Farmers were not like Holden or Toyota. ''For people on the land, a severe drought is akin to a natural disaster,'' Mr Abbott said, not unlike floods or fires that also prompt government aid. Farmers say they want immediate help on farm finance programs.

They would like to see wider access to the program but also a cut in the present interest rate of 4.5 per cent.

They also say farmers need more help to keep farm labour.