Four council areas have been added to Queensland’s list of drought declared areas as more than 80pc of the state meets the criteria, Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries Bill Byrne said on Wednesday.
Minister Byrne said the summer wet season had been too patchy to benefit the hardest-hit areas and Bureau of Meteorology advice that the tropical Pacific is in the early stages of El Nino meant prospects for drought-breaking winter rain and spring rains were not good.
“Adding Burke, Carpentaria, Doomadgee and parts of Mareeba to the list of drought declared regions means farmers are now eligible to access the Drought Relief Assistance Scheme,” Minister Byrne said.
“The Palaszczuk Government made a commitment before the state election in January and I have made numerous announcements since promising that we will not leave Queensland’s drought-affected farmers in the lurch.
“The current funding arrangements will remain in place through to 2018 and will be reviewed as necessary.”
Funding provided through the Drought Relief Assistance Scheme includes freight subsidies and the Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate plus an extra $13 million in Australian Government top ups to the Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate.
The Queensland Government has also waived water license fees and discounted water supply electricity charges, while providing land rent rebates, funding for social support, community events, and mental health and wellbeing services through the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
QRAA is also providing drought concessional loans and farm finance loans on behalf of the Australian Government, and about $113 million in loans has so far been approved during the current drought.
“While several coastal areas received good rainfall and are having their drought status revoked, I am declaring a further large part of the state drought-stricken, particularly in North Queensland,” Minister Byrne said.
“The portion of Mareeba Shire Council I am drought declaring today has not been drought declared since 1979.
“This takes the total area of Queensland drought declared to 80.35 per cent, the largest area ever officially recognised as being in drought.
“The previous record drought-declared area was 79.01 per cent in March 2014, which was also in this current drought.”
A total of 33 councils and three part council areas are now drought declared, with 63 Individually Droughted Properties in a further five council areas.
The Minister said if any producers in revoked areas believed they were still in drought, they could apply for an Individually Droughted Property (IDP) declaration.
“An IDP gives them the same access to Queensland Government drought assistance as an area declaration,” he said.
“Similarly producers in drought declared areas who believe their property condition is good enough that they can restock, can have their property individually revoked in order to access returning from agistment and restocking freight subsidies.”
Producers wanting to apply for DRAS assistance, including the Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate should contact the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries on 13 25 23 or access to DRAS claim forms and IDP applications can be foundat www.daff.qld.gov.au
Updated maps of drought declared areas and boundary descriptions can be found at www.longpaddock.qld.gov.au
New drought-declared areas:
Burke – effective 1 May 2015
- Carpentaria – effective 1 May 2015
- Doomadgee – effective 1 May 2015
- Mareeba Shire Council west of a boundary formed by the Mulligan Highway, the Hurricane, Kondaparinga and Mt Mulligan Roads to Dimbulah, the Burke Development road to Petford, and the Petford Herberton Road to the Shire boundary – effective 1 May 2015
- The area of the Central Highlands Regional Council and Woorabinda Aboriginal Council not already covered by the 1/9/13 and 1/3/14 declarations – effective 28 April 2015.
On the advice of Local Drought Committees, effective 30 April, the Minister is revoking the drought status of 16 Council areas and one part Council area:
Banana Shire Council east of a line from Baralaba, the Cooper Range and the Banana Range
- Scenic Rim
- Gold Coast
- Redland City
- Logan City
- Lockyer Valley
- Ipswich City
- Moreton Bay
- Sunshine Coast
- Brisbane City
- Fraser Coast
- North Burnett
Source: Queensland Minister for Agriculture