Minister for Water Resources, Drought, Rural Finance, Natural Disaster and Emergency Management David Littleproud toured Stanthorpe this morning.
Minister for Water Resources, Drought, Rural Finance, Natural Disaster and Emergency Management David Littleproud toured Stanthorpe this morning. Matthew Purcell

DROUGHT SUPPORT: Southern Downs farmer to chair new group

A GROUP of eminent Australians has been established to help deliver $100 million in drought resilience and preparedness programs to communities every year through the Future Drought Fund. 

Minister for Drought David Littleproud was in Stanthorpe this morning to tour the fire affected region, as well as announce the Future Drought Fund Consultative Committee. 

The committee will now develop the Drought Resilience Funding Plan for the Fund, which begins with a $3.9 billion credit that will grow to $5 billion.  

At the helm of the group will be Southern Downs farmer, Brent Finlay.

"It's something very close to my heart," Mr Finlay said.

"I chaired the National Drought Committee at the National Farmers Federation for three years.

"I've sat around a lot of kitchen tables for farmers, but also a lot of small businesses.

"When we're in the grips of a wretched drought, the worst for so many regions in living memory, it's the communities that save the communities.

"We need the champions in our communities to reach out to everybody. We need to look after each other."

 

Mr Finlay, former president of the NFF, is a third generation farmer within the region. He said this is as bad a drought as he can recall.

"Droughts, fires, floods one day, cyclones are part of what rural and regional Australia deal with every day.

"Having a fund set up that sits there all the time to work on resilience, not just for farmers, but the whole of rural and regional Australia, that is critical."

The fund will provide $100 million every year from July 1, 2020, for new investment in drought resilience and preparedness.

Minister Littleproud said it will support a range of drought resilience measures including: research and innovation, new technology, better environmental and natural resource management, infrastructure and community initiatives.

"The Future Drought Fund was established to give drought-prone Australians the best tools to plan and prepare for drought and sustain their livelihoods and communities," Minister Littleproud said.

Mr Finlay will be joined on the committee by Dr Kate Andrews, Dr Wendy Craik AM, Dr Elizabeth Peterson and Ms Caroline Welsh.

They will get down to work in Canberra later this month.

While in town, in the wake of the bushfires, Mr Littleproud met with QFES representatives, toured the Community Recovery Hub and saw first hand the devastation that has been left.

"What we saw on the ground is just horrific.

"The bravery of our men and women that fought for these people... they put their lives on the line. They are true heroes."