Queensland drought spreads to an unprecedented 80% of the state
Drought-declared area is now the largest in the beleaguered state’s history as state minister works to tap federal help
7 March, 2014
Almost 80% of Queensland has now been officially declared in drought – the largest area in the state’s history.
Southern parts of the state have been added to the long list of drought-declared areas, pushing up the total land area in drought from 70% to 79% on Friday.
The state agriculture minister, John McVeigh, said the drought has now reached record levels.
“Queensland is a big state and there is usually a drought somewhere, but this is the largest area of Queensland that has ever been drought-declared at one time,” he said on Friday.
The affected regions include 38 council areas, four partially declared shires and 38 separate properties in another seven shires.
Southern areas of Banana, Bundaberg, Cherbourg, the Fraser coast, Gladstone, Goondiwindi and Gympie have been added to the long list of drought-stricken areas.
Moreton Bay, Noosa, North and South Burnett, Southern Downs, Sunshine Coast, Toowoomba and the Western Downs have also been included.
“The wet season in these newly declared shires has been very poor with many areas missing out altogether,” McVeigh said.
Residents in drought-declared areas can apply for financial help through state and federal assistance packages via Centrelink.
McVeigh said he was working with the federal government to make debt restructuring loans available as soon as possible.
The prime Minister, Tony Abbott, last month unveiled a $320m assistance package, which includes increased access to a five-year concessional loan scheme worth $280m, mental health support, and more money for wild dog control.
McVeigh has said he expects the state to get a significant portion of this funding.
The president of AgForce, Ian Burnett, said including parts of the south-east in the drought-declared area was welcome news as more producers could apply for financial assistance.
He urged state and federal governments to make it as easy as possible for those affected to access the funds.
He predicted it would take the industry up to three years to recover even if drought-breaking rain fell in the coming months.
“This drought is one which has hit with great ferocity across an unprecedented area of our pastoral and agricultural land,” Burnett said, adding that graziers had some tough decisions ahead.
Queensland suffers biggest drought on record
Queensland's crippling drought now covers more of the State than any other drought in recorded history.15 more local government areas were declared today.