Review of Queensland’s drought declaration process

Published Thursday, 29 June, 2023 at 01:56 PM

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities
The Honourable Mark Furner

  • Review will examine how drought declarations are made and how they support primary producers
  • Review meets commitment made during 2020 drought reforms
  • Recommendations to be made to Minister later this year

The process that has been used to determine drought declarations in Queensland will be reviewed with recommendations made on options to improve the process.

The review was pledged as part of the Queensland Government’s drought reforms announced in 2019, but was delayed due to COVID-19 after consultation with industry groups.

The review will be conducted by former AgForce chief executive officer Charles Burke, with recommendations to be made to Minister Mark Furner later this year.

Mr Burke spent five years as CEO in a total of 16 years with AgForce, including stints as vice president, treasurer, state councillor and chairing several committees.

He also served as vice president of the National Farmers Federation.

The previous drought programs review – co-chaired by Mr Burke and former Queensland Farmers Federation CEO Ruth Wade – recommended a review of the Local Drought Committee (LDC) system supporting drought declaration and revocation decisions to incorporate more objective science-based data on drought declarations.

LDCs were established in 1982 to support decisions on Queensland’s drought situation, with local committees generally meeting at the end of each wet season to make recommendations to the Minister on whether an area should be drought-declared. The LDC system was designed to support the payment of freight subsidies to drought-affected primary producers under the Drought Relief Assistance Scheme.

However, the new Queensland Drought programs, such as drought preparedness grants and drought ready and recovery loans, do not rely on a drought declaration.

While DRAS subsidies are being phased out and won’t apply to future drought declarations, other programs such as water licence waivers and electricity charge relief may still be available in future droughts.  These assistance measures currently rely on declarations.

Mr Burke’s review will:

  • Assess and provide analysis on current arrangements for LDCs and whether they are appropriate;
  • Provide alternative policy options for future drought declarations or alternative triggers; and
  • Advise on the purposes of future drought declarations and their nature.

The review process will include a targeted consultation process with stakeholders including with the existing members of LDCs.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities Mark Furner:

“The review of Local Drought Committees, how drought declarations are made and how they can best support our agricultural industries is an important step in making sure support for farmers to prepare for and manage drought is modern and fit-for-purpose,” Mr Furner said.

“This part of the drought support reform process was recommended in the previous review of drought programs but was delayed due to COVID-19 after consultation with industry groups.”

“Thanks to those reforms drought assistance is now available to more Queensland farmers than ever before, with a primary focus on helping them to prepare for the next drought.”

“With less than 10 per cent of Queensland now drought-declared, this is the right time to take this next step in the reform process and ensure our drought programs are as strong as they can be.”


Media contact: Martin Philip 0407 675 008