Thursday was a big day down in Cloncurry.
In the morning the state government’s drought review panel came to town to talk to locals about the drought impact and suggest ways Queensland could do things better.
Former Queensland Farmers Federation CEO Ruth Wade and past AgForce CEO Charles Burke have been tasked with identifying potential improvements for future droughts in line with national drought policy.
Ms Wade and Mr Burke baulked at being described as “experts” but I thought the tag was reasonable as they both brought a lot of expertise to the table.
They also brought a lot of political awareness and savvy from their previous roles knowing that in many cases politics is usually the art of the possible.
The meeting heard some useful ideas about what works and what doesn’t, including the emergency water infrastructure rebate which falls in the former category and the lack of support for town businesses indirectly affected by drought.
That is an issue which definitely falls in the latter category so it was good to hear Prime Minister Scott Morrison acknowledge that on Sunday as he spoke about rolling out the $75 million Drought Communities Program extension – “a million dollars for every single of the drought affected council areas around Australia”.
Of course Cloncurry and the North West are not officially drought declared though how long that will last as the current dry continues is anyone’s guess.
I hope Mr Burke and Ms Wade are able to offer some meaningful and implementable suggestions to the Queensland government.
Meanwhile later that day I hung around for the John Flynn Place 30th birthday celebrations.
Cloncurry rightly looks with pride to its association to Rev John Flynn and his famous inland mission.
And in this year of the 90th birthday of the Royal Flying Doctor Service, the part played by this region needs to be remembered and celebrated.
It was good too to hear plans to expand the museum and link it in with regional attractions. – Derek Barry