DROUGHT TAKES TOLL ON GRAZIERS
‘Cluster fence projects help to curb its effects’:
IT HAS been four long, dry years.
The drought rages on and nowhere is it more evident than in western Queensland.
Murweh and Paroo shires have been drought-declared since April 2013.
A couple of months later Quilpie joined the list alongside parts of Blackall-Tambo, the Balonne shire and Maranoa regional councils.
The storms that have fallen across other parts of the state and the eastern seaboard flooding that followed Cyclone Debbie steered well clear of the south-west.
South West Natural Resources Management board chair Mark O’Brien said the shires of Murweh and Paroo were part of the Mulga Lands.
“It’s mulga specifically, that the veg management laws proposed by the Labor government, potentially do the most damage,” Mr O’Brien said.
“Everybody who lives in those shires knows that mulga is our best drought defence.
“For legislation to interfere with people’s reasonable access to mulga to maintain their stock shows a severe lack of understanding.”
Mr O’Brien said part of the reason South West NRM started the cluster fencing model and promoted it to the Federal Government was because of its obvious benefits.
“Graziers who have used the cluster fencing model have said that the fencing defers their properties from going into drought by two years,” he said.
“So a four-year drought now means that if we had these fences six years ago, we would have been in drought for max two years,” he said.
“South West NRM’s role is about supporting profitable and sustainable primary production in a sensitive environment and that’s why we’ve been so active about cluster fencing, and vocal about thoughtful vegetation management.”
Murweh mayor Annie Liston said the four-year drought was impacting the region in many ways.
“It’s impacting on our local businesses and because of the drought people aren’t employing others,” Cr Liston said.
“It’s creating a domino effect that is not good for economic development.
“By supporting cluster fences we’re hoping that graziers will go back into carrying sheep and goats to provide another industry for our shire.”
Drought-declared producers are able to access 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.
If you or someone you know requires support, call the drought and farmer assistance hotline on
13 23 16.
DRY TIMES: Mark O’Brien (centre) discusses cluster fencing with Paroo graziers Richard Schmidt and Michael Moody.
This cluster project shows green grass on the inside of the fence at the Coban fencing project.
Queensland drought situation as at May 25, 2017.