Future Drought Fund Consultative Committee hosts consultations

From July, 1, 2020, $100 million will be provided each year for projects that enhance drought preparedness and responses. Photo: Amy McIntyre.
From July, 1, 2020, $100 million will be provided each year for projects that enhance drought preparedness and responses. Photo: Amy McIntyre.

An independent committee is seeking ways to best build drought resilience by hosting public consultations across two states over the next few weeks.

The Future Drought Fund Consultative Committee has provided the government their plan for drought resilience through the fund and are now consulting with communities as part of the process legislated by the government.

The allocation of funds for projects and activities will be guided by the resulting Drought Resilience Funding Plan. From July, 1, 2020, $100 million will be provided each year for projects that enhance drought preparedness and responses. Consultations have commenced, with more planned in Orange and Dubbo later this month.

After consultations finish, Committee Secretariat, Brent Finlay and his team will deliver the plan back to Minister for Drought David Littleproud for him to introduce back to Parliament in February 2020.

Mr Finlay said this is an incredible opportunity for rural and regional Australia to have input in to what should be in the plan.

"We have an opportunity to actually build something and I hope people get excited about that...," he said.

There are three pillars to tackle drought within the plan, including to give support to farmers for the here and now, second to back drought affected communities and thirdly looking to the future to build resilience via the Future Drought Fund.

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One of the things coming through the consultations was water and how precious it is, Mr Finlay said.

"We have to better use our water but also how we move our water and collect our water. The importance of soils....," he said.

"Back in the communities it's about finding those local champions and support them, because they're quite often the glue and information source for those communities."

The Western Magazine spoke to Mr Finlay after the Toowoomba session and he said there was a great attendance of people representing Universities, agronomists, farmers, rural financial counsellors and government representatives.

"There's a level of surprise when talking about the Fund of what it means.... people do want to focus on the in-drought but what we;re doing is not in the current drought and it's not in support for future droughts, it's about preparing those three pillars to be stronger for the next drought," Mr Finlay said.

The Committee Secretariat said the drought we're facing now is of real concern.

"This is a huge, devastating drought we're in now and we've done droughts before, but this one is certainly challenging everybody and for many they can't see the end of it," Mr Finlay said.

"We want to reach out to as many people..."