News and Views

Recommendations to remove three shires from drought declared list

The drought status of three local government areas – Cloncurry Shire, South Burnett Regional Council and Cherbourg Aboriginal Council – has been revoked based on the advice of Local Drought Committees, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Leanne Donaldson said.

The Minister has reiterated the Palaszczuk Government’s commitment to support primary producers and rural communities as the assessment of wet-season rainfall and pasture growth shows most of the state remains in the grip of drought.

“Overall it has been a disappointing wet season, with not enough rain falling where it was most needed,” the Minister said.

“As a result, and again on the advice of Local Drought Committees, I am drought declaring the entirety of the local government areas of Mareeba and Tablelands.

“Queensland’s total drought-declared area is 83.9%, down slightly from the record high of 86.11%.”

The Minister said that it was disappointing that rainfall earlier in 2016 had been patchy and although it brought welcome temporary relief for some graziers, there had not been enough rain over the majority of western Queensland to make a telling difference.

“This is the fourth failed wet season in a row for many communities in that part of the state,” the Minister said.

“I am sure that the announcement will not come as a surprise to anyone who has travelled away from south east Queensland.

“Conditions are very dry in the Mareeba and Tablelands areas, where there are already a number of Individually Droughted Properties (IDP).

“Cloncurry was fortunate to receive widespread but patchy rainfall resulting in pasture growth. Producers who missed out can apply for an Individually Droughted Property Declaration (IDP), to continue to access Queensland Government drought assistance.

“The South Burnett has had some good rain and sufficient water supplies to warrant being revoked, however there are still some dry areas, particularly in the western part of the region, where producers can apply for an IDP.

“It is timely to re-state the Palaszczuk Government’s unwavering commitment to support producers and rural communities impacted by our harsh climate.

“We have honoured our election commitment to continue existing drought relief arrangements until 2018.

“Indeed, we have not only held true to that pledge, we have enhanced and increased support in a variety of ways including lifting from $30,000 to $40,000 the maximum annual DRAS support for property owners in the third and/or subsequent year of drought and with an approved Drought Management Plan in place.

“Since 2013 the Queensland Government has provided more than $120 million of assistance including more than $83 million in DRAS freight subsidies and emergency water infrastructure rebates alone.

“Our commitment to primary producers coping with this drought remains resolute.”

Following the revocations and declarations, primary producers should check the DRAS guidelines to confirm their eligibility for assistance.

Drought declared producers are able to access DRAS fodder and water freight subsidies and emergency water infrastructure rebates as well as access other programs in the Queensland Drought Assistance Package.

This includes relief from electricity charges, land rent rebates and water licence waivers as well as access to a number of community and mental health programs.

Producers who have had their drought declaration revoked become eligible to receive restocking and returning from agistment freight subsidy assistance through the DRAS scheme for up to two years after the end of the drought declaration.

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