The need for better planning and coordination among government agencies was stressed at a drought review meeting in Longreach on Monday.
Six workshops have been held throughout regional Queensland as the state government seeks feedback on its drought response.
Boulia Mayor and beef producer Rick Britton told the forum that a lack of preparation and infrastructure investment had transformed the severity of the drought from “a pimple to a boil”.
“One issue is that there is no data. There is a lack of rain forecasting stations across the vast area,” Mr Britton said.
There is a lack of rain forecasting stations across the vast areaRick Britton
“To give you an example we are nine kilometres outside of Boulia. Our caravan park gets 50mm of rain and we might get 5mm.”
Mr Britton also emphasised the need for producers to take some drought preparedness into their own hands.
“You’ve got to put an emphasis on having a drought policy yourself.”
Rosemary Champion, from Longway Station said the use of land demarcations to determine individual drought declarations could cause big headaches.
“You might go up the Landsborough Highway and everything on the west is drought declared and everything on the east is not,” Ms Champion said.
“When you create lines on maps it causes a lot of angst and I think that there’s got to be a fairer way.”
Ruth Wade, the former chief executive of the Queensland Farmers’ Federation, and Charles Burke, the former head of AgForce, fronted the Longreach meeting as the two independent members appointed to run the drought review.
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The pair will deliver a report to the state government outlining policy recommendations early next year.
“Our commitment to you is that we will do our best to come up with a really good report,” Mr Burke told the meeting. “There are no guarantees. The only guarantee is that we will work very, very hard to come up with something that is practical, deliverable, and worthwhile for agriculture.”
Ms Wade said the consistency of feedback across the drought review forums so far would be helpful when formulating these final recommendations.
Although the review had a specific focus on Queensland policies, the work would also feed into the national intergovernmental agreement on drought reform, she said.
“There is bound to be a robust discussion in terms of drought policy and responses in the future,” she said.
“While our charter is narrow in terms of Queensland, we have to link that to the IGA and discussions that are going on.”
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