The Queensland Government has fired back at Federal Drought Minister David Littleproud after he launched a self-serving broadside at the states over drought funding.
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said he was disappointed to see Mr Littleproud playing politics on the issue, especially on the day the nation’s agriculture ministers came together at Moree to work on solutions.
“While we are standing shoulder to shoulder with Queensland farmers through this insidious drought, Mr Littleproud seems unwilling to demonstrate bipartisanship,” Mr Furner said.
“Farmers remember this is the same Federal Government that unilaterally withdrew its 25% Emergency Water Infrastructure Scheme rebate when there was a change of government in Queensland in 2015, and only committed to restoring it at last year’s national drought summit.”
The Queensland Government has committed more than $745M to support drought affected producers and communities since 2013.
Assistance measures have included:
• Increasing the payroll tax threshold to $1.3m and reducing the rate by an additional 1 per cent for regional businesses;
• $74.6m in the State Budget for ongoing drought assistance, including emergency water infrastructure rebates, electricity charges relief for irrigators and water users, land rent rebates and water licence waivers;
• Expanding drought support beyond the Drought Assistance Package to include funding for mental health support, the Royal Flying Doctor Service Drought Wellbeing Service and additional financial counselling for both producers and small business in droughted areas;
• Primary Industries Productivity Enhancement Scheme (PIPES) providing concessional loans to establish or improve sustainability of primary production; and
• The $21m Drought and Climate Adaptation Program (DCAP) to help producers better manage future drought and climate risks through improved forecast products, tools and extension activities.
Mr Furner said the Queensland Government invested more than $120M in agricultural research and extension last financial year, including researching drought-resistant crop varieties.