Progress to date

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.

This includes:

  • $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:
    • $111.8 million paid to 2196 primary producers in Special Disaster Assistance Recovery Grants (up to $75,000 per eligible primary producer), and
    • $12.3 million paid to 834 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 7 April 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 7 April 2020, 172 grant applications totalling over $47.4 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).

Drought

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.

Key Dates

01 September 2020
Drought

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud announces a plan to invest $86 million to establish eight Adoption and Innovation Hubs across regional Australia and the development of a Digital Foundations for Agriculture strategy.  The Innovation Hubs will support networks of researchers, farmers, agricultural businesses and community groups to enhance drought resilience practice, tools and technology.  The Digital Foundations strategy will lay the groundwork for widespread uptake of digital technologies across agriculture, forestry and fisheries industries. The Research and Adoption program is one of the eight foundational programs of the Australian Government's Future Drought Fund, while the Digital Strategy forms part of the National Agricultural Innovation Agenda. 

28 August 2020
Drought

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack, and Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud announce a $2.7 million boost for agricultural field days to ensure they can continue to showcase innovation and support regional communities after the COVID-19 pandemic.  The $2.7 million is in addition to the $36.3 million previously announced to support agricultural show societies. 

28 August 2020
Drought

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud announces the opening of two Future Drought Fund competitive grants worth $11.2 million. The grants will fund programs designed to help Australian farms and rural and regional communities prepare for and deal with the significant economic, social and environmental impacts of drought.

28 August 2020
Drought

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announces the establishment of the National Drought and Flood Agency’s Regional Recovery Officer network. The network works closely with other Australian Government agencies such as the Rural Financial Counselling Service, Regional Investment Corporation, Services Australia and the Australian Taxation Office to ensure farmers, regional businesses and communities are aware of Australian Government support initiatives and that people receive the correct information and advice to suit their individual needs.

21 August 2020
Drought

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack, and Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud announce further support to drought-affected communities, with 30 local projects sharing in more than $1.1 million in funding. The funding forms part of the $15 million Tackling Tough Times Together program, which is administered by the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal.

31 July 2020
Drought

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud announces the investment of $5 million to develop drought resilient landscapes.  The funding will be available to Natural Resource Management (NRM) bodies as part of the Future Drought Fund NRM Drought Resilience Program – Landscapes, and will support projects that build the drought resilience of natural capital in agricultural landscapes.

22 July 2020
Drought

Minister for Finance Mathias Cormann and Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud announce further assistance to farmers and small businesses by providing an additional $2 billion in loan funding to the Regional Investment Corporation (RIC) for 2020-21. 

17 July 2020
Drought

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud announces a further $1 million to provide small regional businesses in South Australia with access to free and confidential financial counselling through the Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS)

01 July 2020
Drought

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud announces the first programs funded under the Future Drought Fund. Eight programs worth $89.5m will begin to roll out from July this year.  The programs will give farmers and communities the tools they need to prepare for, manage and sustain their livelihoods during droughts.

26 June 2020
Flood

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud and Queensland Government Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick announce a new online educational game to help Queensland children and their families prepare for future disasters and severe weather.

26 June 2020
Drought

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud announces an extension of the Farm Household Allowance (FHA) relief payment for three months, providing $2.1 million to eligible farmers and their families. The payments will support farmers who require some more breathing space to begin to recover or make difficult decisions about their future.

25 June 2020
Drought

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud announces $36 million in funding to support agricultural show societies recover from the effects of COVID-19, ensuring they can continue after the pandemic.