THANKS FOR THE NOTICE
Drought committee member shocked by public announcement
A FOUNDATION member of the Western Downs Local Drought Committee found out via the media last week that he had been sacked from his role.
Greg Stanke was on the first committee formed 35 years ago and said he was confused and dumbfounded when he heard last week that state Agriculture Minister Mark Furner had dismissed the drought committee.
Mr Stanke started on the committee while he was part of the Chinchilla Grain Growers Association.
Every year he, along with the other members of the committee, offered advice to the government about the weather conditions in the region.
These meetings traditionally were held in April, after the wet season.
The Chinchilla farmer said he felt let down by the government for not informing him prior to the announcement.
“I thought it was pretty weak given my 35 years on the committee as a foundation member that I couldn’t have been notified by letter or a telephone call before it hit the media,” Mr Stanke said.
“I was absolutely dumbfounded given (my) time and effort over a lot of years about how this decision was accomplished.
“I am disappointed ... that they have given the answer in the media before they disclosed it with the committee, let alone dismissing the committee.”
Mr Stanke said he received a formal letter on Friday advising of his dismissal – two days after it was reported in the media.
A spokesman from Mr Furner’s office said the letters to drought committee members informing them of their dismissal were sent out on Wednesday, September 19, the same day it was announced in the media.
Mr Stanke said he would’ve preferred a phone call prior to the announcement, out of courtesy to his years of service.
He said the drought committee reconvened and recommended the drought declaration, at least one month before it was announced by Mr Furner.
It took the government roughly a month, Mr Stanke said, to announce the region was partially drought declared, after the committee had made the recommendation, which he said was frustrating.
There is now confusion about the next drought committee and how it will be appointed.
Mr Furner said he was waiting for a review into the government’s drought program before deciding on the future of the Western Downs Local Drought Committee.
“The independent Drought Review Committee is currently undertaking a state-wide consultation process about the future of the State Government’s Drought Assistance Program,” Mr Furner said.
“This includes the Local Drought Committee process, among many other things. Once that committee reports back, a decision on the future of the drought committee will be made, which will be before the next wet season.”
DISAPPOINTED: Chinchilla’s Greg Stanke volunteered on the Western Downs Drought Committee for 35 years until Minister Mark Furner sacked him when the committee decided to re-declare the Western Downs to be in drought.