$9M in Qld drought funding announced


Queensland will bring forward $8 million for a $9 million drought relief package with a focus on farmers’ metal health.

The $9 million includes $1 million in new funding and will be spread across a number of existing programs, including a $4 million injection over four years for the the Wellbeing Service provided by the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said mental health was a major component of the government’s response to the drought.

“This (drought) is having a huge emotional and mental health toll on a lot of families,” she said.

Ms Palaszczuk was at the annual Ekka show in Brisbane on Monday, and said she had heard heartbreaking stories from farmers about conditions in rural parts of the state.

The premier also announced the appointment of two drought commissioners to provide her with information about the effectiveness of drought assistance programs.

Responding to questions about the timing of the funding announced on Monday, when the state has seen drought conditions for a number of years, Ms Palaszczuk said successive Queensland governments had committed $670 million over the last five years towards the issue.

“When we’re not dealing with droughts, we’re dealing with cyclones, we’re dealing with floods,” the premier said.

“I know there is a huge generosity of Queensland spirit out there where we all want to help those in need.”

Liberal National Party Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said the funding announcement was welcome, but didn’t go far enough.

“It is disappointing there’s no relief for fixed costs such as council rates, electricity bills,” Ms Frecklington said.

Rural lobby group Agforce welcomed the funding package, and said it was looking forward to the government’s review into the effectiveness of the Drought Relief Assistance Scheme.

In addition to the Wellbeing Service, $2 million was allocated over two years for the Tackling Regional Adversity through Integrated Care program.

And $1 million was allocated to increasing from 1000 to 2000km the distance which stock feed can be transported at a subsidised rate.

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