Queensland struggles with worst drought in history

QUEENSLAND’s is officially dealing with the worst drought in its history, with over 87 per cent of the state now drought-declared after the declaration of seven more drought-affected areas.
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Alex Paull

Fraser Coast, North Burnett, South Burnett, Cherbourg, Gympie, Somerset and the remainder of Banana have been added to the list of Shires that are officially in-drought over the weekend.

It follows the declaration of Bundaberg last week, and for the second time in a week, Agriculture Minister Bill Byrne said the Local Drought Committee had met outside the normal cycle.

The committees normally meet during April but met on Saturday due to the lack of rain during the wet season.

The threshold for a drought declaration is generally a once in 10 to 15 year rainfall deficiency.

“On Tuesday I asked Local Drought Committees across South East Queensland to meet at their earliest opportunity to recommend whether their Shires should be drought declared,” Byrne said.

“Today I have received the recommendations of seven committees to make a declaration and I have no hesitation in doing so. The declarations are effective immediately.

“These latest declarations bring the total area of Queensland where drought is declared to 87.47%.

“That is the highest ever and I am still waiting for some committees to send me their recommendations.

“I have been advised that while some parts of the South East Queensland have received some patchy storm rainfall over the summer season, good general rainfall across the whole region has not been received.”

The Fraser Coast region logged the lowest rainfall in its recorded history over the past 12 months and the overall outlook for the cane industry and other cropping in the region is also poor.

In Gympie, 160km north of Brisbane, producers are feeding hay for roughage as well as protein and energy feeds due to the loss of paddock roughage in some areas.

Drought declared producers are able to access DRAS fodder and water freight subsidies and emergency water infrastructure rebates as well as access to other programs in the Queensland Drought Assistance Package if they are eligible.