Queensland Minister for Agriculture Bill Byrne
More Queensland Regions Drought Declared
Victor P Taffa
Agriculture Minister Bill Byrne has today accepted the recommendations of Local Drought Committees that seven more regions be drought declared.
Fraser Coast, North Burnett, South Burnett, Cherbourg, Gympie, Somerset and the remainder of Banana have been added to the list of Shires that are officially in-drought.
“On Tuesday I asked Local Drought Committees across South East Queensland to meet at their earliest opportunity to recommend whether their Shires should be drought declared.” Minister Byrne said.
“Committees would normally expect to meet during April but I asked them to bring their meetings forward because of the lack of rain during the wet season.”
“Today I have received the recommendations of seven committees to make a declaration and I have no hesitation in doing so. The declarations are effective immediately.” Minister Byrne said.
“These latest declarations bring the total area of Queensland where drought is declared to 87.47%.”
“That is the highest ever and I am still waiting for some committees to send me their recommendations.”
“I have been advised that while some parts of the South East Queensland have received some patchy storm rainfall over the summer season, good general rainfall across the whole region has not been received.” Minister Byrne said.
“In fact, the Fraser Coast region had the lowest rainfall in its recorded history over the past 12 months and the overall outlook for the cane industry and other cropping in the Fraser Coast is poor.”
“In Gympie, producers are already feeding hay for roughage as well as protein and energy feeds due to the loss of paddock roughage in some areas.”
“Around Biloela there are very large rainfall deficits and there were no summer dryland crops this year.” Minister Byrne said.
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 to other programs in the Queensland Drought Assistance Package if they are eligible.
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.
Threshold for a drought declaration is generally a once in 10 to 15 year rainfall deficiency.