Results flow from sum­mit

Tasmanian Country - - NEWS - Wayne John­ston

AS Prime Min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son said at the na­tional drought sum­mit in Can­berra last week, which TFGA at­tended: “I can’t re­call the last time that when all state and ter­ri­tory leaders, Com­mon­wealth, lo­cal govern­ment, all of those leaders in the ag sec­tor have come to­gether to fo­cus on an is­sue like this”.

Cur­rently, all states and ter­ri­to­ries are sig­na­to­ries to the In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal Agree­ment on Na­tional Drought Pro­gram Re­form, which recog­nises they have a com­mon in­ter­est in re­form­ing droughtre­lated pro­grams.

How­ever, set­ting ef­fec­tive drought pol­icy has been dif­fi­cult, and to date poli­cies have led to con­fu­sion on the va­ri­ety and cer­tainty of as­sis­tance mea­sures, which means as­sis­tance needs to im­prove both pro­ducer re­silience and in­drought out­comes.

We have seen and heard na­tional me­dia re­port­ing of drought on the main­land, but we need to re­mem­ber that parts of Tas­ma­nia are do­ing it tough as well. Un­for­tu­nately, the East Coast has been left out of the wet win­ter ex­pe­ri­enced by most the state. The Bureau of Me­te­o­rol­ogy says the dry weather has been the pre­dom­i­nate fea­ture on the East Coast for most of the past 18 months.

TFGA com­mends the prime min­is­ter on tak­ing the ini­tia­tive to in­sti­gate a sum­mit. We sup­port the es­tab­lish­ment of a Fu­ture Drought Fund, start­ing off with $3.9 bil­lion pro­tected for­ever by leg­is­la­tion, with the re­turns rein­vested to en­sure it grows up to $5 bil­lion. The fund’s pur­pose is build re­serves to draw on in times of drought.

Spe­cific pro­grams funded on the day in­cluded: $15.3 mil­lion for men­tal health sup­port; $50 mil­lion in­vested in on­farm wa­ter in­fra­struc­ture re­bate scheme; $81.5 mil­lion to ex­tend the Drought Com­mu­ni­ties Pro­gram; and an on­line drought hub, a one-stop shop for in­for­ma­tion. Also an­nounced was the role of co­or­di­na­tor-gen­eral on drought re­sponse and Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter David Lit­tleproud be­com­ing Min­is­ter for Drought Prepa­ra­tion and Re­sponse.

Pri­mary pro­duc­ers need a change from the cur­rent, change­able pol­icy ap­proach. A more proac­tive ap­proach will re­duce the en­vi­ron­men­tal, fi­nan­cial and hu­man costs of man­ag­ing cli­mate risk.

An agri­cul­ture sec­tor that is well pre­pared for drought and can re­spond ef­fec­tively, means that farm­ers have the full suite of risk man­age­ment tools at their dis­posal.

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