Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has welcomed the Federal Government’s long-awaited new drought initiatives but urged Prime Minister Scott Morrison to make sure assistance flowed quickly to drought-stricken communities.
Ms Palaszczuk said the Federal Government had heeded Queensland’s calls after months of pressure to support farmers and businesses in drought-declared areas, but warned the lack of a coherent national drought policy was still a concern.
The Premier stressed she is willing to work with the Federal Government.
“In Queensland we have been getting on with the job of taking as much pressure as we can off farmers and the businesses they support in their communities,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“Just in this year’s Budget we have raised payroll tax thresholds and lowered the rate for regional businesses, and we have committed another $74.6 million for drought assistance.
“We are standing shoulder to shoulder with our farmers and regional communities to help them through the drought, and we will do that for as long as the drought lasts.
“The Federal Government is still sitting on reports from its drought commissioner and its drought envoy. I think Queenslanders would like to know what is in those reports so they know Federal assistance is being targeted in the right way.”
The Queensland Government has committed more than $745 million to support drought-affected producers and communities since this drought began in 2013.
Assistance measures have included:
- Increasing the payroll tax threshold to $1.3m and reducing the rate by an additional 1 per cent for regional businesses;
- $74.6m in the State Budget for ongoing drought assistance, including emergency water infrastructure rebates, electricity charges relief for irrigators and water users, land rent rebates and water licence waivers;
- Expanding drought support beyond the Drought Assistance Package to include funding for mental health support, the Royal Flying Doctor Service Drought Wellbeing Service and additional financial counselling for both producers and small business in droughted areas;
- Grants for professional advice for management of farm properties;
- Primary Industries Productivity Enhancement Scheme (PIPES) providing concessional loans to establish or improve sustainability of primary production; and
- The $21m Drought and Climate Adaptation Program (DCAP) to help producers better manage future drought and climate risks through improved forecast products, tools and extension activities.
Ms Palaszczuk said the State Government was investing in useful and improved forecasting and decision support tools to help producers better plan for drought and other climate risks through its $21 million Drought and Climate Adaptation Program (DCAP), and more broadly in agricultural research to help Queensland farmers take on the world.
“We have a lot of agricultural research going on, including looking at more drought-resistant crop varieties and that science is focused on helping our farmers be more sustainable and more profitable,” she said.
“We know many Queensland farmers are doing it tough, but they are also innovating and exploring every opportunity and enhancing our state’s reputation around the world as growers of top-quality produce.
“That means a lot for the communities they support and the regional jobs they will create now and into the future, and we are right with them all the way.”
Premier and Minister for Trade
The Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk