Two-thirds of Queensland still in drought

Drought still biting in Queensland's central and southern regions


The Big Dry
Aa

Despite a summer in which parts of Queensland were pummelled by huge rain events, resulting both in enormous stock losses and two flood events through the Channel Country, nearly two-thirds of the state remains officially in drought.

Aa

Despite a summer in which parts of Queensland were pummelled by huge rain events, resulting both in enormous stock losses and two flood events through the Channel Country, nearly two-thirds of the state remains officially in drought.

Agriculture Minister Mark Furner said on Wednesday morning he had accepted the recommendations of local drought committees to drought declare five additional shires and extend or issue part drought declarations in four others.

The new declarations cover Ipswich Regional Council, the remainder of Western Downs Regional Council, Scenic Rim Regional Council, the remainder of Banana Regional Council, Gladstone Regional Council, Rockhampton Regional Council, Livingstone Shire and the southern portion of the Central Highlands Regional Council including part of the Woorabinda Aboriginal Shire Council area, defined as south of the Capricorn Highway.

It means that 65.2 per cent of Queensland is officially still in drought at the end of the summer wet season.

In mid-March, 58pc of the state was assessed as being in drought.

However, Mr Furner said local drought committees across northern and western Queensland had delayed their annual meetings until May.

"After the well above average rainfall and flooding in these areas, the LDCs will be able to better assess the conditions and pasture response in May," he said.

As well as a significant lack of rain across central, southern and south east Queensland, concerns remain around pasture growth in regions where rain has fallen.

Many water supplies, particularly in central and southern Queensland, have not been sufficiently replenished.

Mr Furner said that according to local drought committees, the areas added to the drought declared list saw significantly-below average rainfall over the last year, and the rainfall they did receive had little impact on breaking the ongoing drought.

"Therefore I have accepted the recommendations of the LDCs and my department to drought declare five additional shires," he said.

"These declarations allow us to target assistance to primary producers who are doing it tough, and supporting agricultural industries and jobs in the process."

The state government has invested more than $670 million since 2013 to help drought-afflicted communities.

Mr Furner said with the drought continuing unabated, drought commissioners Vaughan Johnson and Mark O'Brien had been reappointed.

"The commissioners are filling an important role connecting regional Queenslanders with appropriate assistance and providing direct input to the government's ongoing drought assistance measures."

Both the lack of summer rainfall and increased temperatures had had a major impact on agriculture production over summer, a key time for livestock and cropping industries.

"The drought has seen poor pasture growth, failed winter and summer crops in many areas, as well as significant concerns about stock, irrigation and rural domestic water supplies moving forward into our normally dry winter period," Mr Furner said.

"And while central Queensland received recent rainfall triggering some winter crop plantings such as forage oats, barley and chickpeas, follow-up rain will be essential."

He asked any producer experiencing difficult conditions in any council area that was not drought declared, to apply for an Individually Droughted Property declaration.

"This gives them the same access to our drought assistance as an area declaration."

On the other hand, Mr Furner said producers in any drought-declared area who believed their property conditions were improved enough to allow restocking could have their property individually revoked.

"If their drought declaration is revoked, producers can access returning from agistment and restocking freight subsidies through the Drought Relief Assistance Scheme for up to two years after the end of the drought declaration," he said.

"However, to be eligible for these subsidies producers must ensure their property's drought declaration is first revoked before introducing any livestock."

For further information on drought assistance visit daf.qld.gov.au or call the Customer Service Centre on 13 25 23.

Aa

From the front page

Sponsored by