Last week, the Prime Minister convened the National Drought Summit in Canberra to discuss what could be done in the short and long term to help drought-affected farmers and communities to be more resilient.
The summit was attended by ALGA President, Mayor David O’Loughlin, as well as a number of mayors from affected councils across four states: Cr Rob Chandler, Mayor of Barcaldine Shire Council (Qld), Cr Scott Ferguson, Mayor of Blayney Shire Council (NSW), Cr Joe Rettino, Mayor of East Gippsland Shire Council (Victoria) and Cr Dean Johnson, Mayor of the District Council of Kimba (SA).
A National Drought Summit Statement was issued following the summit which acknowledged that while Australia’s agricultural sector is healthy and productive, drought is affecting large areas of the country.
In addition to taking forward ideas for improving responses to the current drought the Prime Minister, together with Premiers and Chief Ministers, committed to principles for drought reform including:
- There should no longer be Exceptional Circumstances declarations or ‘lines on maps’. Instead, governments should focus on addressing the specific needs of farming families, farming businesses and farming communities.
- Acknowledgement that drought is just one of a number of hardships that can adversely impact farmers.
- Government policies and programs should support farming communities to prepare for drought and enhance their long-term sustainability and resilience.
It was also agreed that it was critical that governments plan for the future, given that droughts are part of Australia’s landscape.
The full National Drought Summit Statement is available on the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet website.