DROUGHT FIGHTER SCORCHED

Foun­da­tion mem­ber shocked at Min­is­ter’s pub­lic an­nounce­ment

Chinchilla News - - FRONT PAGE - Michael Doyle Michael.Doyle@dal­by­her­ald.com.au

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.”

PHOTO: BROOKE DUN­CAN

’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.

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