Drought assistance funding extended to three more regions

Media Release

WT437/2015

23 December 2015

Joint release with:

Barnaby Joyce

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources

Boulia, Carpentaria and Quilpie Shire Councils have been added to the list of local government areas eligible to apply for funding through the Drought Communities Programme.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss said the Drought Communities Programme had been introduced to generate greater economic stability in remote and regional areas impacted by significant rainfall deficiencies.

A total of 20 councils in western Queensland and northern NSW have now been declared eligible for the programme.

“The Australian Government is providing $35 million over four years to fund local infrastructure initiatives in eligible drought-affected communities to build greater economic strength and sustainability,” Mr Truss said.

“Funding under the Drought Communities Programme fosters projects that stimulate local community spending and employment, use of local businesses and suppliers, as well as those which offer long-lasting benefits to regional communities.

“The decision to extend the Drought Communities Programme to these areas is based on consideration of a number of factors, including updated rainfall deficiency records provided by the Bureau of Meteorology to November 2015.

“The Australian Government has so far approved 28 projects from nine eligible councils and is assessing funding proposals from three other councils already eligible for assistance through this initiative.”

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Barnaby Joyce said a further three regional centres would now be eligible to access funding through the Drought Communities Programme.

“I am pleased that the Boulia, Carpentaria and Quilpie Shires in Queensland are now eligible to apply for funding to complete key infrastructure projects,” Mr Joyce said.

“We have heard the requests from those in the remote Western districts and are doing our best to fulfil them.”

“There is also a range of other support measures available to farmers and residents affected by drought, including concessional loans and income support, as well as tax assistance and free financial counselling services.

“Since coming to government we have invested more than $590 million in assistance and support for Australian farmers and rural communities experiencing drought and other hardship—with over $400 million approved in concessional loans to around 750 farm businesses and over 5,600 claims for Farm Household Allowance (FHA) granted.

“The Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper makes available nearly $3 billion over the next 10 years providing farming families, farm businesses and rural communities with greater certainty about support available to prepare for, manage through, and recover from drought.

“I have seen first-hand the impacts that drought can have on the livelihoods and wellbeing of residents in affected communities. I urge anyone struggling with drought and other financial hardships to talk to their local Rural Financial Counselling Service or the Department of Human Services to find out more about the support available.”

To find out about other support services, visit www.agriculture.gov.au/assistance or for further information on the Farm Household Allowance call the Department of Human Services Farmer Assistance Hotline on 13 23 16.