Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner has partially drought declared the Western Downs Regional Council area.
At the same time, he has moved to replace the area’s Local Drought Committee.
Mr Furner says he had decided to refresh the membership of the Western Downs LDC, because in his view the committee process had been manipulated for political gain.
“The LDC’s are meant to be free from political influence, to avoid lobbying, and ensure members are free to make unencumbered decisions based on science that will serve the community for the coming 12 months.”
“Given that I believe the committee has been compromised, I have instructed the department to relieve the LDC of their duties.”
The Minister says the new Drought declaration for part of the Western Downs region has arisen as there has been a significant and rapid deterioration in seasonal conditions in the eastern part of the council region.
“The area around Dalby has received well below, or no rainfall since April, warmer than average daytime temperatures and some quite severe frost events.”
“These conditions have combined to cause a serious and rapid deterioration in the seasonal conditions across the shire.”
Drought declared producers are able to access Drought Relief Assistance Scheme (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.
The Minister has also reminded those producers living in a shire that is not drought declared, that they can apply for an Individually Droughted Property (IDP) declaration which gives them access to the same relief assistance.
I’d also like to reiterate that primary producers wishing to access the federal government’s Farm Household Allowance do not require a drought declaration.
“Access to the federal government’s Farm Household Allowance, including the recently announced $12,000 farm household assistance grants, is not dependent on area drought declarations made by the Queensland government.”
The Western Downs Regional Council partial drought-declaration brings the total area of Queensland drought declared to 58.13%.