Eleven local government areas in southeast Queensland have had their ‘drought’ status revoked by state authorities following significant rainfall since last October.
Queensland’s Local Drought Committees (LDCs) declared on Thursday that drought conditions in the the LGAs of Bundaberg, Cherbourg, Fraser Coast, Gympie, Ipswich, Lockyer, the Scenic Rim, Somerset, South Burnett, Southern Downs and Toowoomba had improved.
Significant rain and flooding events since October 2021 now mean Queensland’s drought declared area has shrunk from 64.7% to 61.1%.
Mark Furner, minister for agricultural industry development and fisheries, and regional communities, issued a statement noting the ‘big improvement’ in conditions across the state’s south east.
“While we acknowledge that some producers have suffered significant damage from the severe rain and flood events, the positive is that natural water courses and stock and irrigation water storages have been replenished, along with excellent pasture growth that will see us through to the next wet season,” Furner said.
Local drought-affected producers will still have access to several drought assistance programs but the state’s drought relief assistance scheme (DRAS) will be phased out, the minister added.
Meanwhile, Queensland primary producers in the drought-revoked areas can access freight subsidies for restocking and returning from agistment under the old DRAS.
“If a producer is experiencing difficult conditions in an area that is not drought declared, then they could apply for an Individually Droughted Property (IDP) declaration.
“This gives them the same access to our drought assistance as an area declaration,” Furner said.
LDCs draw on several sources of information to assess conditions, which determines whether an area is officially declared subject to drought. The minister said this included the Australian Combined Drought Indicator (CDI), which was developed by the Northern Australia Climate Program with funding from University of Southern Queensland, the Queensland Government’s Drought and Climate Adaptation Program and Meat and Livestock Australia.
“Other Queensland’s LDCs will meet towards the end of this month to assess seasonal conditions in other drought declared parts of the state,” Furner said.
“Droughts and floods are part of our climate cycle and now is the time to start preparing for future droughts.”