“Agriculture recovery from ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie is critical to Queensland’s recovery,” says Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk — yet she continues to mention ‘drought’ and ‘recovery’ without once mentioning ‘dams’.
In a recent media release, the Premier stated that her Government was determined to work with the State’s agricultural sector to ensure its recovery was part of the State’s efforts to bounce back from ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie.
During a visit to Bowen with State Disaster Recovery Co-ordinator, Brigadier Chris Field, the Premier said agriculture was an important contributor to the local and State economy.
To date, assistance under the joint Commonwealth-State Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA) had been activated in the 11 local government areas of Whitsunday, Mackay, Central Highlands, Gladstone, Gold Coast, Isaac, Logan, Lockyer Valley, Scenic Rim, Rockhampton and Livingstone.
Category B assistance under NDRRA includes concessional loans of up to $250,000 and essential working capital loans of up to $100,000 and freight subsidies of up to $5,000.
The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries will continue to work closely with impacted industries and producers to monitor the region and I will be advised if we need further additions to Category B activation, or if we need to consider higher levels of assistance from the Australian Government under NDRRA as more information comes to hand.
The Premier said to highlight the climate variability that Queensland’s primary producers must contend with, eight of those 11 local government areas – Whitsunday, Central Highlands, Gladstone, Gold Coast, Isaac, Logan, Lockyer Valley and Scenic Rim – are also drought declared.
There are currently 29 local government areas under NDRRA activation; 22 of those are drought declared.
The area of Queensland where it is currently drought declared and deemed eligible for natural disaster assistance is 362,695 square kilometres or the equivalent of 17% of the State.
For further information on Category B assistance or recovery tips visit www.daf.qld.gov.au or http://www.farmerdisastersupport.org.au/ or call 13 25 23.
The Premier said the agricultural sector was represented on the Queensland’s Emergency Recovery Group through peak bodies, including AgForce; Queensland Farmers Federation.
“The group provides strategic advice to the Queensland Government and key stakeholders on the economic impacts of the event and the proposed response so enterprises and industry can recommence operations as soon as possible,” she said.
That’s all very well, but the Premier doesn’t need to be reminded of her ongoing rhetoric that “agriculture is harming the Great Barrier Reef.”
After every heavy rain event, massive amounts of water roar out to sea, giving the seas along the coast a brown tinge.
Even tourists flying into the Gold Coast for Easter have made mention of how the iconic blue water has taken a brown hue.
The Premier can’t have it both ways. She cannot continue to blame agriculture for the outflows from agriculturl land for having a major affect of the reef, when her government is against the building of new dams that will contain the flow and offer many other benefits.
Perhaps the Premier should consider the benefits of building dams: flood mitigation and ultimately much less water flowing out to sea, generating hydro-electricity to combat arguments from The Greens, and ultimately channelling the water out west to where agriculture would benefit greatly during drought.
The real prize may be that Deputy Premier Jackie Trad may keep her seat in parliament; otherwise The Greens will gain the State seat of West End.