Queensland is suffering through one of its worst droughts on record. Many areas have roughed it through three failed wet seasons in a row.
The Commonwealth Government has provided over $400 million of concessional loans to more than 740 farmers and graziers — with another $250 million committed for this year and each of the next 10 years. Other assistance has included funding for water infrastructure, pest eradication and dog fences.
The drought has been so severe that its impact has moved beyond simply the farming community.
In response the Federal Government announced a $35 million Drought Communities Program to provide funding to “shovel-ready” projects that could stimulate job creation and local business activity.
Seventeen councils in Queensland and New South Wales have already been declared under the program.
The Quilpie Shire Council has approached me about missing out on this program. I have looked into their issues and reckon they do have a good case to get this funding.
I and the local LNP State Member, Lachlan Millar, have compiled a submission to the Deputy Prime Minister, Warren Truss, arguing that they should be included.
We find that the exclusion of Quilpie reflects incomplete rainfall records, and the pattern of rain that Quilpie has received during the last few years.
To judge the impact of this drought on Quilpie we argue that we need to look at other measures. We have conducted a survey of businesses in the Quilpie shire and found that the average downturn for businesses is more than 40 per cent. We consider this makes a strong case for the Quilpie Shire to be declared under the Drought Communities Program.
My full report on Quilpie is available here.