Sunday 31st of May 2020

even the drought relief is drying up...


Morrison, giving the first indication that the federal drought funding had dried up, explained that of the $100 million in funding he announced that day, only $40 million would be rolled out this financial year.

The remaining $60 million will become available in the 2020-21 fiscal year, effectively robbing Peter to pay Paul by dipping into the yearly $100 million in interest from the Future Drought Fund.

Despite the National Drought Strategy being in the red by early October 2019, Morrison and his ministers continued to announce more drought assistance in the form of mental health support services, $7 million in support for businesses in drought-affected regions and the $2.7 million Regional Weather and Climate Guides project. Clearly, Morrison had abandoned the mantra he espoused as Treasurer in 2018 of “the Government living within its means”.

Minister Littleproud reiterated the same pleas for assistance from state governments he made on his “listening tour” at the Despatch Box in the House of Representatives on October 15, 2019. 

Minister Littleproud explained to the Parliament that states are broadly responsible for helping farmers with animal welfare, freight and fodder, while it is the Federal Government’s responsibility to ‘look after farmer welfare’.

The Drought Minister explained to the House the escalating need to step up the drought response — an indication to astute observers that, despite the broad-ranging National Drought Strategy, the Federal Government needed help.

Minister Littleproud accused the states of not pulling their weight in relation to drought relief on ABC’s Insiders, when, in fact, the worst drought-affected states were matching or exceeding the Federal Government’s financial handouts and meeting their commitments.

As the drought continues to worsen, it has become clear that the Federal Government’s National Drought Strategy has depleted all available funding, with the lion’s share of that funding going to future drought-proofing water infrastructure. Emotional pleas from Alan Jones and ministers have not convinced the Prime Minister to open up any further avenues of financial funding for drought relief.

The National Drought Strategy has exceeded the Federal Government’s means, going into the red; funding for councils appears to have been pork-barrelled into Coalition seats and there appears to have been an over-commitment on future drought-proofing water infrastructure projects, while farmers are in dire straits just trying to survive the current drought.

Labor’s Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Resources, MP for Hunter, Joel Fitzgibbon wrote to the Auditor-General on 1 October 2019 to request an examination of the Morrison Government’s handling of the National Drought Strategy funding and the ‘inexplicable claim the Government has committed $7 billion in “drought support funding”’. Mr Fitzgibbon has not indicated whether the Auditor-General has responded yet.

Meanwhile, the drought worsens while the dams, rivers – and now the funding, too – has dried up. 


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water duffing...

A number of farmers will be investigated after satellite imaging showed their dams, in drought-ravaged parts of New South Wales, were filled during a pumping embargo in parts of the Murray-Darling Basin. 

Key points:
  • Routine satellite checks identify a number of private dams in the Murray-Darling Basin that filled during a pumping ban
  • Some dams are considered to be a "high priority" for investigation, while others filled before the embargo began
  • The ban was in place to allow some of the first flows into these catchments in months


Routine satellite monitoring conducted by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) captured several filled private dams earlier this year.

The ABC has been told the state's water watchdog, the Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR), will investigate.

"In the Namoi, the MDBA found that 29 private storages appeared to fill or partially fill during the embargo," the MDBA said in a statement. 

"In the Macquarie, another three private storages were found to fill during the embargo.

"There are many reasons why a farm dam could have filled quite legally, which is why it is important for follow-up work to be done on the ground by state compliance officers."


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retaining the bush...

From the NewDaily:

Well cry me a river. If it wasn’t bad enough that the arch conservative broadcaster, Alan Jones, got the tissues out to grab a few headlines this week, the incoherent Pauline Hanson followed suit with a sobfest on Friday.

Yes, that’s the same Alan Jones who’s been in a spot of bother most recently for suggesting that a strong, outspoken woman should have a sock shoved down her throat, and the same Pauline Hanson who’s courting the angry white male vote by claiming that women lie to manipulate the family law system.

Yet both political gutter-fighters reached for the hanky this week, not only to draw your attention to their sensitive side, but to suggest they’ve reached breaking point on an important issue that’s vexing them.

How troublesome could this terrible thing be, to reduce these steely pillars of right-wing fury into a blubbering mess?

Could it be that they’ve suddenly been gripped by the enormity of the domestic and family violence epidemic that is sweeping through our nation like wildfire? Not likely. Ms Hanson prefers to emphasise the fake statistics that claim the distressingly high rate of male suicide is due to family breakdown. (It might be, but we just don’t know. No statistics are collected on the ‘causes’ of suicide).

Perhaps they’re anguished at the plight of the two Australian-born girls left isolated and distraught on Christmas Island with their asylum seeker parents while the Government fights to be rid of them. Not Ms Hanson, she doesn’t appear to have said a peep about the Biloela family, although Mr Jones, to his credit, has said their treatment is unbelievably disgusting and disgraceful.

Are they concerned, then, about the parlous state of the economy, and the fact that the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, and his Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, are trying to keep it afloat with plastic straws, fishing line and a balloon filled with wishful thinking until their mythical surplus is delivered next May? Nope.

Maybe it’s that they’ve finally consulted the scientists and realised the existential threat that faces the world from climate change? Nope, nope, nope. Ms Hanson says the climate emergency is made up, and Mr Jones claims it’s a hoax.

So what’s the big deal? Well, farmers have become the latest political accessory and everyone wants one – I mean, wants to show that they care about their plight. Why? Because farmers are no longer rusted-on Nationals voters and their support could be available to the person/party who cares the most (or is the highest bidder, which essentially is the same thing).

How better to say ‘I care’ than to broadcast your blubber to the radios and televisions of those very same farmers. You could also castigate the PM for not shovelling cash into failing farm businesses, as Mr Jones did this week. Or set up another inquisitorial Senate charade, as Ms Hanson did this week, to express care for her niche subset of embattled primary producer – Australia’s dairy farmers.

This is not to say that a lot of Aussie farmers aren’t doing it tough. Some have been dealing with a crippling dry spell for many years. But as the head of the farmers’ peak representative body indicated this week, it’s not the first drought and it won’t be the last. Australia’s last ‘worst’ drought occurred less than 20 years ago.

Given we’ve known for more than a century that Australia is the ‘sunburnt’ country, a land of drought and flooding rains, it’s well and truly time for the sector most affected by the ravages of nature to adequately prepare. And yes, for governments to help it do so.

The National Farmer’s Federation’s president, Fiona Simson, said this week it was critically important that, as the sector endures the hardships of this drought, “we take steps to ensure we are better prepared for the next.”

“Until now, as a country, we have failed to establish a comprehensive, national policy that guides us in effectively doing this.”

The NFF aims to change this with a national drought policy that it released this week.

“We need to have a different approach,” said Ms Simson, stressing that “we cannot find ourselves in the next drought in the same circumstances that we are now, where people have no certainty about the sorts of policies that governments are going to deliver.”

“While this National Drought Policy comes too late to help those managing this drought,” said Ms Simson, “the NFF is determined to see that we don’t find ourselves, once again, without a plan for drought.”

This is a wise, if long overdue, move by the NFF to show the nation’s political leaders how to show they actually do care about Australian farmers.

Now it’s up to the nation’s three levels of government, composed of varying political hues, to find time from their endless political bickering to work together on making the nation ‘drought ready’ before the next worst drought arrives.

Then there will be no need for anyone to resort to crocodile tears.



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Read from top.


The forecast for this month (October) and November is not good for farmers: DRIER than average. Say in most area where average is 45 millimetres of rain for November, the forecast is 2 ml or less.

Apparently, global warming is also reducing the frequency of cyclones in Queensland. This is good news for towns along the coast, some of which have barely recovered from a nasty one nearly ten year ago, but the lack of cyclones means LESS WATER for the inland — and warmer ocean for the Great Barrier Reef.

Clearing more land for farming or cattle grazing in this country is criminal... It is equivalent to accelerating the desertification of the Sahara and Mesopotamia. The Chinese are planting 88 billion trees to prevent the Gobi desert expansion. We're doing the opposite. Do'h...