READ MOREAddressing the parliament on Monday evening, Turnbull said the situation in New South Wales where 100 percent of the state is in drought was approaching the 1965-68 drought that affected the country's entire east coast.
"Unlike a fire or a flood which inflicts immediate physical damage to people, property, homes and infrastructure, a drought is insidious, longer and more widespread," he told the parliament on the first sitting day since June 28.
"Farmers find themselves going to enormous expense just to keep livestock alive in the hope of rain. Physically working harder than ever and losing money all the time."
Earlier Turnbull announced a 190 million Australian dollars ($138 million) urgent relief package for farmers in the form of a lump-sum payment of up to 12,000 Australian dollars ($8,720) for farming households.
With farmers selling excess cattle over concerns that they cannot afford to feed them, beef retail prices have plunged from 19.5 Australian dollars ($14.17) per kilogram (kg) to 19.17 Australian dollars ($13.93) per kg, exacerbating the financial situation for struggling farmers.
"When nature throws its worst at us, it brings out the best in Australians," Turnbull said.
"To our farmers, who grow the food we eat and the fibre we wear, we thank you for your tenacity and courage. And now, in these hard, dry times, more than ever, we have your back." ■