The National Drought and North Queensland Flood Response and Recovery Agency was announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison on 5 December 2019 to lead a national response to the drought affecting large parts of the country and to continue supporting North Queensland communities affected by wide-spread flooding in early 2019.
The Agency is led by the Hon Shane L Stone AC QC, Coordinator-General and Chairman of the Advisory Board. It was previously known as the North Queensland Livestock Industry Recovery Agency (NQLIRA).
Below details the Australian Government's commitment to supporting people through drought, and as they recover from the 2019 North Queensland flood event.
2019 North Queensland flood event
More than $3.3 billion has been paid or committed by the Commonwealth to assist affected people, businesses and communities by this event with recovery and reconstruction.
- $111 million paid to the Queensland Government in Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements payments, for distribution to affected local government areas, individuals, primary producers, small businesses and not-for-profit organisations. This includes:
- $109.4 million paid to 2149 primary producers in Special Disaster Assistance Recovery Grants (up to $75,000 per eligible primary producer), and
- $13.4 million paid to 918 small businesses and not-for-profit organisations in Special Disaster Assistance Recovery Grants (up to $50,000 per eligible small business or not-for-profit organisation), as at 4 March 2020.
- A further $121 million paid to the Queensland Government in Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangement payments, for a range of initiatives including helping small businesses to recover, mental health and wellbeing services, infrastructure betterment and future flood-preparedness measures.
- $300 million of Commonwealth funding committed for North Queensland Restocking, Replanting & On-farm Infrastructure Grants – up to $400,000 (dollar-for-dollar co-contribution) to eligible primary producers. As at 4 March 2020, 161 grant applications totalling over $45 million have been approved.
- $118 million paid to over 96,000 applicants under the Commonwealth’s Disaster Recovery Payment and Disaster Recovery Allowance
- $1 billion made available for AgRebuild Loans through the Regional Investment Corporation.
- $1.75 billion made available for concessional loans directly to Authorised Deposit-taking Institutions.
- $5 million for the management of Prickly Acacia.
- $4.8 million for non-government and boarding schools with significant numbers of students from flood-affected areas.
- $2.6 million to support the mental health of communities affected by the floods.
- $40.2 million for two new radars in Maxwelton (between Richmond and Julia Creek) and Charters Towers, and their supporting rain guages (over 20 years).
The Australian Government wants our farmers to continue to be successful and to maintain their competitive advantage. Stronger farmers mean stronger rural communities and a stronger economy.
In our dry continent, drought is an enduring feature. It is a recurring and challenging experience for Australia’s farmers and rural communities.
As a consequence of climate change, drought is likely to be longer and more severe in some regions and over broader areas. It means that farmers and communities in some regions are likely to see drought more often. Those that have been managing drought for many years may now see it intensify beyond their lived experience. Ultimately, the nation could see some areas of Australia become more marginal and/or unproductive.
Drought impacts the productivity and profitability of farms. It affects businesses, communities and regions. Services and businesses suffer as less money is spent locally. Inevitably, some businesses close and people leave their communities seeking opportunities elsewhere.
Drought also has significant social and environmental impacts. Stress often affects the health and wellbeing of farmers, their families and communities. For some farmers, stresses can become chronic if decisions in the lead up to, and during, drought do not work out. The land may suffer with good management practices neglected or eschewed in favour of income, leading to degradation of natural capital, and in turn increasing the recovery challenge.
The Australian Government Drought Response, Resilience and Preparedness Plan outlines a three-part plan for drought, ranging from immediate assistance for farmers and regional communities, to investing in ways to build long term resilience and preparedness so we’re ready for the next drought:
Part 1: Immediate action for those in drought—focused on measures to support farmers and communities facing prolonged drought conditions to keep them going until the drought breaks.
Part 2: Support for the wider communities affected by drought—rural and regional communities depend on our farmers and are at the heart of Australia.
Part 3: Long-term resilience and preparedness—building resilience and ability to withstand drought periods in the long term.
This Plan cannot make it rain; no plan can. And the Plan is not just about responding to and preparing for drought—it is about giving our farmers and regional communities hope for the future and building resilience.
The Plan is not set and forget. Drawing on advice from the National Drought and North Queensland Flood Response and Recovery Agency, Government will continue to monitor the effectiveness of policies and programs and adjust as necessary to best support communities who are living through the immediate and longer-term effects of drought and flood.