Record drought spreads further in the north
Seven more council areas have been added to Queensland’s list of drought declarations, taking the total area of the state in drought to a new record of 86.11 per cent.
Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries Bill Byrne said the continuing dry conditions were affecting the Burdekin, Townsville, Pormpuraaw and Kowanyama councils, and were very apparent in parts of the Cook, Whitsunday and Isaac councils.
“The dry winter period coupled with persistent drought conditions means there has been little relief for drought-affected areas,” Minister Byrne said.
“While poor pastures and lack of surface water have made things difficult for livestock in these council areas, dropping water levels and restrictions in the Burdekin have escalated costs for irrigation-reliant canegrowers and horticulture.
“The recent rainfall in western Queensland has been a shot in the arm for those that were under the more substantial falls, some up to six inches in the old scale, enough to cause some minor local flooding around Barcaldine and Jericho.
“But even those areas lucky enough to receive good amounts will need substantial follow-up rain and the outcome of the wet season known before there would any consideration by the Local Drought Committees to recommend any revocations.
“Local Drought Committees usually wait until the end of the wet season before recommending drought declarations or revocations, however they have been closely monitoring local conditions and in light of the lack of rainfall have brought forward their recommendations.
“All producers in these newly drought declared areas are now eligible to access the Drought Relief Assistance Scheme, or DRAS.”
Funding provided through DRAS includes freight subsidies for fodder and water for livestock, and the Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate.
Drought declared livestock producers can access up to $20,000 per year from DRAS, and if they have an approved Drought Management Plan, up to $30,000 per year increasing to $40,000 in the third and subsequent year of a drought declaration.
This drought, in addition to DRAS, the Queensland Government will also waive water license fees and fund discounted water supply electricity charges, while providing land rent rebates, additional funding for social support, community events, and mental health and wellbeing services through the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
A total of 36 councils and five part council areas are now drought declared, with 40 Individually Droughted Properties in a further seven council areas.
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 found at www.daf.qld.gov.au.
Waivers of water licences and land rent rebates will be automatically provided by the Department of Natural Resources and Mines for the current financial year and any subsequent years of a drought declaration. Producers in the newly drought declared areas seeking assistance through the Drought Relief from Electricity Charges Scheme (DRECS) should contact Ergon on 1300 135 210 or www.ergon.com.au
Updated maps of drought declared areas and boundary descriptions can be found at www.longpaddock.qld.gov.au
Drought declared Council areas, including partial declarations:
- Banana (part)
- Central Highlands
- Charters Towers
- Cook (part)
- Isaac (part)
- Mareeba (part)
- Mount Isa
- South Burnett
- Southern Downs
- Western Downs
- Whitsunday (part)
Media Contact: Michelle Connolly: 0478 325 738