Tremendous support needed for valley of pains

By Hari Yellina
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The Australian and Queensland governments have been asked to allow money to flow in response to the unprecedented rain and flooding that has hit the Wide Bay, Fraser Coast, south east and southern Queensland. Allow the support payments to flow like the floodwaters that have flooded Lockyer Creek and the many other streams, creeks, and rivers that run through these areas. Our thoughts will be with those cultivators in these areas who will almost certainly lose everything, with their entire properties flooded. With their next crop still months away, cash flow is becoming a larger issue than water.

In the aftermath of previous disasters, exceptional circumstances grants of up to $50,000 have been offered to help with the costs of clean-up and restoration of primary production enterprises, with the first $10,000 available immediately and the remaining $40,000 only available with full proof of invoice payment. We will ask administrators to be more flexible with how this second tranche is released due to cash flow challenges for some growers. We are inviting primary producers to complete a damage estimate survey as soon as it is safe to do so, to help government agencies determine the severity of this current catastrophe in each region and the extent of support to be supplied.

For the first time, we’re using a single survey, administered jointly by the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and agriculture industry groups, to streamline the process. The survey can be found at https://arcg.is/1j5Ge8. We expect these damaged areas to be eligible for concessional loans in the future to help with crucial operational capital and getting the next crop in the ground. Every grower will agree that taking out insurance is preferable to relying on a government bailout. It’s just that, as the frequency, severity, and expense of these disasters increase, premiums become increasingly out of reach.

Despite the fact that the newest calamity is still unfolding, it’s important to remember the Queensland government’s promise made before the 2017 election to examine its stamp duty on agricultural insurance with the goal of eliminating it, as NSW and Victoria have done. This isn’t the kind of commitment that can be put off indefinitely. Treasurer Cameron Dick and Deputy Premier Steven Miles have an excellent opportunity to grasp the nettle in the next state budget.


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