Results flow from summit
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.