Drought policy decision-makers need a jab

View From the Paddock: Drought policy decision makers need a job

OPINION
Opinion
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The view out my back door is of a very wet garden, but farmers would hope policymakers in Alice Street are not confining themselves to looking at Brisbane's Botanic Gardens.

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Robin McConchie, retired rural reporter.

Robin McConchie, retired rural reporter.

The view out my back door is of a very wet garden, but farmers would hope policymakers in Alice Street are not confining themselves to looking at Brisbane's Botanic Gardens.

Government policy development and implementation seem to move at glacial speed, especially when it comes to rural policy out of the election cycle.

The decision-makers need a bit of a jab in the arm. Last year the state government announced it would postpone implementing its drought reform program until July 2021 due to COVID-19.

The reform program would include the government's response to the Independent Panel Review of the Queensland Drought Program headed up Ruth Wade and Charles Burke and handed to the Minister for Agriculture in early 2019.

July is fast approaching. One wonders whether the state government will have received its second jab of the policy vaccine by then.

The Wade review made 20 recommendations related to each of the drought assistance programs, of which 13 received outright support. The panel found the current drought declaration process needs updating to an impartial system trusted by local communities.

The panel recommended removing freight subsidies, additional support for programs such as the Drought and Climate Adaptation Program, the development of programs that could help businesses adapt, and, where appropriate, in-drought assistance to reflect the severity of an event.

Lobby group AgForce voiced member concerns about the phase-out of freight subsidies but was cautiously open to the state government commitment to working with industry on the reforms.

The government was also preparing the Drought Management Framework 2019-2024 to outline how it will help producers manage and recover from drought.

As of February, 67.4 per cent of the state was drought declared. Recent rain has relieved the pain for many but July is fast approaching, and the BOM says the La Nina has done its dash.

Let's hope the government the drought policy vaccine roll-out meets its target and delivers meaningful drought reform.

A comment was made to me recently that 'drought is a bit like childbirth; you try to forget the pain'.

But that does not mean you don't plan for the next child!

- Robin McConchie, retired rural reporter

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