The Palaszczuk Government has commissioned a review of the Drought Program, to improve resilience and assistance for farmers in future droughts.
Speaking in Charleville today, (26 Aug) Minister for Agricultural Industry Development Mark Furner announced that an independent expert panel would conduct the review.
“Droughts are part of life in Queensland and our producers are very experienced with the big droughts and the big floods that often end them,” Mr Furner said.
“However even the most resilient and well-prepared producer and their community can struggle in a crippling and prolonged long drought such as this one.
“Since the current drought started to impact in 2013, the Queensland Government has allocated over $670 million in assistance.
“We have always supported our farmers and I assure embattled rural families that our current Drought Assistance Package will continue for the duration of this drought.
“However, with drought foremost in people’s minds, right now is the best time to work with industry and the community to review government, industry and community actions through this drought and to consider and recommend improvements for coping in future.
“All too often reviews have been conducted well after droughts are over and lessons are forgotten.”
Mr Furner said Ruth Wade and Charles Burke were appointed to run the review to identify potential improvements for future droughts in line with national drought policy.
“Ms Wade and Mr Burke have a strong industry background and understanding of the pressures of drought visits on rural communities, being former Chief Executive Officers of the Queensland Farmers Federation (QFF) and AgForce Queensland respectively,” he said.
“The panel will hold forums in six regional centres and will seek written submissions through the drought program review website throughout September and October 2018. Details on how to make submissions will be online from mid-September.
“I encourage community members to attend these forums to have their say on what’s needed in future and to submit their thoughts online for the panel to consider.”
The expert panel will report their firm recommendations to the Government in early 2019.
The Palaszczuk Government has just appointed two Drought Commissioners who will report directly to the government on the impact of the current situation and any issues with assistance for producers, their families and communities.
“The current situation has to be tackled and that’s why our government appointed the two drought commissioners to focus on the here and now,” Mr Furner said.
“The commissioners will provide Ms Wade and Mr Burke with a real insight into current conditions on the ground which will be useful in considering future assistance and programs.”