Drought assistance extended to three more regions

Media Release

WT304/2015

24 September 2015

Joint release with:

Barnaby Joyce

Minister for Agriculture
and Water Resources
Federal Member for New England

The drought-affected communities of Richmond and Barcoo in Queensland and Coonamble in New South Wales, are now eligible to participate in the Australian Government's new Drought Communities Programme to assist in building much-needed infrastructure.

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 regional areas impacted by low rainfalls.

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

“Funding under the programme aims to stimulate local community spending, employment and use of local businesses and suppliers to provide long-lasting benefits to regional communities.

“The decision to extend the Drought Communities Programme is based on an update and extension of rainfall deficiency records provided by the Bureau of Meteorology up to August 2015.”

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Barnaby Joyce said while two extra Queensland and one NSW regional centres are now eligible to access funding through the programme, the Australian Government is currently assessing project funding proposals from five eligible councils.

“A number of regions continue to experience terrible drought,” Mr Joyce said.

“Also announced earlier this year was support for mental health, the Rural Financial Counselling Service, pest management and concessional loans, and each of these initiatives is well underway, providing real relief for those doing it tough.”

Eligible councils yet to submit requests for assistance under the Drought Communities Programme are urged to lodge applications by 24 December 2015 or their eligibility may lapse.

Rainfall data will be reviewed again over the coming months to monitor the funding eligibility of other councils in New South Wales and Queensland.