DROUGHT FIGHTER SCORCHED
Foundation member shocked at Minister’s 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 said he was confused and dumbfounded when he heard last week that state Agriculture Minister Mark Furner had dismissed the drought committee.
A grain grower from Chinchilla, Mr Stanke was on the first committee formed 35 years ago.
For more than three decades, he said he took pride in advising governments on the condition of the region as he knew all to well the hardship of drought for the agriculture industry.
The foundation member 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 minister Mark 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.
Mr Stanke said the length of time it took for the government to act made people like himself frustrated.
“After the committee made their decision, there was a time-lag which then got people up in arms,” he said. “The frustration led to a bit of media action.”
There is now confusion about the next drought committee and how it will be appointed. Mr Stanke said whoever took over the duties of the committee would have a difficult job.
Minister Mark 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 are currently undertaking a statewide 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.”
’PRETTY WEAK’: 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 drought in the Western Downs.