Drought and flood recovery remain high priorities

Federal money still there for flood, drought help: Shane Stone

News
Monsoon-affected beef producer Scott Harrington with National Drought and North Queensland Flood Response and Recovery Agency Coordinator-General Shane Stone in Julia Creek during the fact-finding tour. Pictures supplied.

Monsoon-affected beef producer Scott Harrington with National Drought and North Queensland Flood Response and Recovery Agency Coordinator-General Shane Stone in Julia Creek during the fact-finding tour. Pictures supplied.

Aa

The many Queensland producers that continue to grapple with ongoing drought, as well as those still recovering from the February 2019 monsoon event, have been reassured that they are still very much on the federal government's radar.

Aa

The many Queensland producers that continue to grapple with ongoing drought, as well as those still recovering from the February 2019 monsoon event, have been reassured that they are still very much on the federal government's radar.

National Drought and North Queensland Flood Response and Recovery Agency Coordinator-General Shane Stone has recently returned from an eight-day mission to southern, central and north western parts of the state to hear updates on how the government response was being viewed, and to meet and travel with its Queensland Regional Recovery Officers.

According to Mr Stone, people were glad to see they'd not dropped off the government's radar, especially as some in the north west had gone from drought to flood to grasshopper damage, and were now back in a stark drought landscape.

"People have begun drawing down on the $400,000 dollar for dollar matching grants for restocking, replanting and replacing infrastructure, tentatively," he said.

"They might draw down $20,000 at a time, to give them money for fencing.

"The challenge they have is high cattle prices, and that money has to be matched.

"But the scheme is over five years and we're into the second year - we are just out there reminding people of its availability."

Agency policy advisor Damien Ryan, Agency Advisory Board member David Galvin, Shane Stone, Murweh Mayor Shaun Radnedge, Bruce Scott, Hannah Leu and Bryson Head.

Agency policy advisor Damien Ryan, Agency Advisory Board member David Galvin, Shane Stone, Murweh Mayor Shaun Radnedge, Bruce Scott, Hannah Leu and Bryson Head.

According to the agency website, $60.6 million has so far been approved for 243 applications, while $114 million in disaster assistance recovery grants was paid to 2249 primary producers, which was the $75,000 grants for debris clean-up, carcass disposal, and immediate salvage work.

"We are suggesting to people that they speak with rural financial counsellors and get in our system," Mr Stone said. "If they qualified for the $75,000 grant, they're more than halfway there."

Some $14.9 million has been paid to 1008 small businesses and not-for-profit organisations.

Mr Stone said assistance for small business was not as clear cut as a primary production business where the stock, the means of earning an income, had died.

"There is a big uptick in business at the moment - campers are everywhere and it's a struggle to get accommodation - but we know that won't last," he said.

Regional Recovery Officers Emma Rush, Rachael OBrien and Tahna Jackson with Agency staff member Lani Reid and Shane Stone on the ground in Charters Towers.

Regional Recovery Officers Emma Rush, Rachael OBrien and Tahna Jackson with Agency staff member Lani Reid and Shane Stone on the ground in Charters Towers.

A sentiment is still present in some quarters that the assistance is a handout, Mr Stone said, which his agency was quick to counter.

"It's a hand up, it's government investing in an essential part of the economy.

"People last week reminded me that we turned up very quickly after the flood, and that we were hitting the mark with what they needed."

He's due to return to parts of the north west, around Normanton, Karumba, Burke and Wills, and Etheridge, from October 26.

Mr Stone said the recovery agency couldn't do the work it was doing without its partnership with the Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority.

Aa

From the front page

Sponsored by