Flood recovery ongoing
Over recent weeks I have continued to criss-cross the region, visiting impacted communities, and as I do I am constantly impressed by the way people are getting back on their feet.
Progress is being made - in every community I see examples of how people are putting the flooding behind them and getting on. For example, overall, 1293 primary producers have accessed Special Disaster Recovery grants (up to $75,000), totalling $72.4 million.
It's been good to hear first-hand stories about how the grants are helping, stories like that of Nigel Simmons at Clarafield Station in the McKinlay Shire. Nigel told us he lost about 60 per cent of his herd, as well as kilometres of fencing and experienced lots of erosion. He said the $75,000 grant has been a tremendous help: "... The flow-on effect from the funding will be beneficial for the local community. Everyone's really putting the emphasis on spending it locally".
"It's good to know that the country is supporting us," Nigel added.
And that's what this is about - backing the primary producers of North Queensland as they get back on their feet.
While the majority of grant recipients have been beef producers, you might be interested to know there have also been cane growers, fruit growers, sheep farmers, vegetable growers, grain growers, nurseries, and fish trawlers - to give you a sense of the breadth of industries the Australian government and this agency supports.
We're now also seeing take up of the Restocking, Replanting and On-farm Infrastructure co-contribution grants (up to $400,000). As at Friday, July 5, there were 25 grants approved, totalling $6.8 million. We expect take up of this grant will be steady over the coming months, as those impacted have a bit more time to consider the best option for them and their business.
I also want to make people aware about a couple of loans that are now available for affected farmers:
- Concessional loans of up to $5 million provided by the Regional Investment Corporation, and
- The $1 million Exceptional Disaster Assistance Loan, jointly funded by the Commonwealth and Queensland governments and managed by QRIDA.
Other measures that have been recently announced include a $100 million fund to help affected communities build stronger, more disaster resilient infrastructure (jointly funded by the Commonwealth and Queensland); and recovery grants of up to $10,000 for small businesses for help with repairs as well as to better prepare for future disasters.
I encourage everyone to visit www.nqlira.gov.au to find out about all the assistance measures available, including mental health support. This is our new website - launched on July 1 - and it makes it even easier to find out about all the recovery assistance that's available.
Since we started our work, my agency has spent over a third of its time on the ground, talking to farmers, community members, councils, small businesses, service providers and charities in impacted areas.
I recently met with charities that are supporting communities to get back on their feet. Charities are a critical part of the recovery effort and it's important that they continue to complement the work of government to ensure communities receive the support they need. I'm encouraging everyone to support our fellow Australians by donating to a registered charity that's supporting people affected by the floods.
We are now working with communities to develop a strategy that identifies actions to help the affected regions recover in the long-term and to build resilience. If you want to be part of this process, please register your interest by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and providing your areas of interest, best contact phone number and the local government area you reside in. I will continue to keep you updated on our progress.
- North Queensland Livestock Industry Recovery Agency CEO Shane Stone