The Federal Government has announced additional funding for local water infrastructure will aid drought-stricken farmers across Australia as part of the its drought package.
Some of the initiative under the next phase of the drought assistance policy include:
- The Drought Communities Program will be expanded and receive an additional $75 million to help support an initial 60 councils in drought-stricken areas, funding local community infrastructure and other projects, such as emergency water supply. This measure recognises that support is also needed for the communities and businesses that back farmers
- An additional $23.7 million will be provided to improve drought resilience by extending the Great Artesian Basin bore capping program that plugs abandoned bores and replaces freerunning channels with new water-efficient piping
- There will be a special drought round under the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund that will provide up to $72 million for water infrastructure in drought-affected areas
The expansion of the Drought Communities Program will enable $1 million to be provided to 60 councils initially, with further support available if needed. The program guidelines will be broadened giving councils flexibility to choose projects that have the biggest impact. These can include employing local contractors to undertake repairs and maintenance, upgrading or building new community facilities, undertaking drought-relief activities and carting potable water into communities for drinking and bathing.
Major General Stephen Day has been appointed as the National Drought Coordinator, and will work with government to facilitate coordination of service delivery, including the Drought Commissioner in NSW, Drought Commissioners in Queensland, the Farm Liaison Officer appointed by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, and relevant agencies in other states.