Labor Agriculture Minister Mark Furner has been sitting on an independent review in Queensland’s drought program for more than 6 weeks* and has to date refused to release it to the public.
LNP Shadow Minister for Agriculture Tony Perrett is calling on the Minister to come clear on what was in the report and release it to the public.
“Queenslanders dealing with the ongoing drought deserve to know what is in this report,” said Mr Perrett.
“While parts of North Queensland have benefited from significant rainfall, many rural and regional communities continue to suffer from the prolonged dry.
“An independent report into the effectiveness of Queensland’s drought programs cannot be buried and hidden from the public.
“We cannot allow this culture of secrecy and arrogance continue from Minister Furner and Labor. He sat on the Queensland Agricultural Training Colleges (QATC) reports for 6 months just to announce its closure under the cover of Christmas.
“We know that in April local drought committees (LDC) typically meet and provide recommendations on their drought status to the Minster.
“Regions like the Central Highlands, Western Downs and Scenic Rim for example are all areas that are suffering from the prolonged dry but are not officially drought declared.
“Farmers in these regions are missing out on vital rebates and support that farmers in drought declared regions are entitled to access.
“It creates an extremely difficult situation for these farmers as they are still experiencing all the associated drought-related hardships.
“It’s simply not good enough that the Western Downs region is still without a LDC after it was controversially dismissed by Minster Furner in September last year.**
“The Western Downs community can’t be represented when this incompetent Minister has failed to even re-appoint the LDC.
“The Western Downs community should not have to suffer because of this Minister’s inability to do his job.”
Currently, 58.1 per cent of Queensland is drought-declared. This includes 23 council areas and five part-council areas. There are 175 Individually Droughted Properties declared in a further 19 shires.
*Queensland Drought Program review statement: http://statements.qld.gov.au/Statement/2018/9/19/have-your-say-on-the-future-of-queenslands-drought-program & https://www.daf.qld.gov.au/droughtprogramreview
**Western Downs drought statement: http://statements.qld.gov.au/Statement/2018/9/19/western-downs-regional-council-partially-drought-declared