State government delays drought reforms

Queensland drought reforms delayed until July 1, 2021

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The state government has announced Queensland's drought declared area will remain unchanged at 67.4 per cent.

The state government has announced Queensland's drought declared area will remain unchanged at 67.4 per cent.

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Queensland drought reforms have been delayed until July 1, 2021, despite 67.4 per cent of the state remaining drought declared.

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Queensland drought reforms have been delayed until July 1, 2021, despite 67.4 per cent of the state remaining drought declared.

The state government revealed today the planned reforms had been delayed by a year due to the impact of COVID-19 on producers.

The Drought Program Review was conducted by former Queensland Farmers' Federation CEO Ruth Wade and former AgForce CEO Charles Burke.

It was released in June 2019 and made 20 recommendations, with the state government accepting 13 of the recommendations and in principle accepting a further six.

Implementation of the reforms will be postponed until July 1, 2021, falling after the state election on October 31.

"With so much of our focus on COVID-19, while having to maintain high levels of ongoing drought support, we are postponing the implementation of Drought Program Reforms until July 1, 2021," Agriculture Minister Mark Furner said.

"These measures were based on agreed recommendations of the Independent Panel Drought Program Review and will improve drought and climate risk preparedness for future droughts and better align Queensland with the National Drought Agreement.

"The Queensland government has already invested more than $745 million in drought-affected industries and communities since the drought began.

"Another $74.6 million was allocated over four years in the 2019-20 budget to continue the Drought Assistance Package and there's an additional $100 million for concessional loans to primary producers."

The state government also announced Queensland's drought declared area would remain unchanged at 67.4 per cent.

Despite late summer falls in parts of the state, it was not enough to turn around a disappointing season overall.

Mr Furner said the lack of rain combined with well above-average temperatures in 2019 and early 2020 meant there had been a serious impact on Queensland's agricultural production.

They found that while rainfall received during February-March was welcome, there was a lack of follow-up rainfall and the benefits were limited. - Mark Furner

He said the Local Drought Committees had not recommended any changes to drought declarations due to a lack of drought-breaking rainfall.

"LDCs meet at least once a year, generally at the end of the summer rainfall period, to discuss the impact of seasonal conditions and make recommendations about the drought status of their area," Mr Furner said.

"They found that while rainfall received during February-March was welcome, there was a lack of follow-up rainfall and the benefits were limited.

"There has been limited 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 encouraged producers experiencing difficult conditions in any council area that is not drought declared to apply for an Individually Droughted Property declaration.

He also advised 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."

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