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).


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

20 February 2020

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud announces further initiatives to support farming households battling the continuing drought:
- An additional  $82.75 million for the Drought Community Support Initiative (DCSI), which now includes the 52 local government areas added to the Drought Communities Programme Extension in January 2020.
- Drought community outreach activities that will bring together a range of services to help community members understand the different types of support available to them during these difficult times.

28 January 2020

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Minister for Drought David Littleproud announce an additional 52 councils to receive up to $1 million under the extended Drought Communities Programme (DCP).  The addition of the new councils brings the total number of eligible councils in the DCP to 180.
They also announce an additional $10 million to ensure families affected by drought are supported to continue accessing education.

17 January 2020

Minister for Drought David Littleproud announces availability of low-interest loans of up to $500,000 for farm-dependent small businesses

06 January 2020

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announces the establishment of the National Bushfire Recovery Agency

18 December 2019

Minister for Drought David Littleproud announces another $10 million for drought-affected farmers and land managers to fight feral animals and weeds

16 December 2019

Minister for Drought David Littleproud announces an additional $33.2m investment in the Drought Community Support Initiative.
Payments of up to $3,000 per household will continue to be available to eligible drought-hit farming families throughout Christmas and the New Year.

11 December 2019

Minister for Drought David Littleproud announces the opening of applications for the water for fodder program for Murray-Darling Basin farmers

10 December 2019

State and Federal agriculture ministers meet in the northern NSW town of Moree to discuss the ongoing drought

05 December 2019

The National Drought and North Queensland Flood Response and Recovery Agency was announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison. The Agency is led by the Hon Shane L Stone AC QC, Coordinator-General and Chairman of the Advisory Board. Mr Stone will report to Minister for Drought, David Littleproud

02 December 2019

Minister for Drought David Littleproud and Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick announce $14.9m in new infrastructure approvals to help Far North and western Queensland rebuild

01 December 2019

Minister for Drought David Littleproud announces heavily discounted water for fodder will be available for farmers in the southern connected Basin from the second week of December

28 November 2019

Minister for Drought David Littleproud provides clarification on Murray-Darling Basin water allocations