Comment on drought funding plan

The Commonwealth Department of Agriculture is seeking  responses, in-person and online, to its Drought Resilience Funding Plan 2020-2024.

Local councils can submit feedback online, in writing or via a survey by 13 December 2019, or attend consultations around Australia between 5-26 November.

The draft consultation paper’s priorities include social resilience for resourceful and adaptable communities, with an objective of maintaining and improving the wellbeing and social fabric of rural and regional communities.

Ways this will be done include by supporting data and information collection, helping communities share their knowledge with others, and leadership programs.

Community facilities can also be improved, “including water efficiency or recycling infrastructure for sporting and recreational facilities, upgrades to public gardens, tourist attractions and other facilities,” the document said.

The Drought Resilience Funding Plan provides $100m annually; some $3.9 billion will be invested in an attempt to grow it to $5 billion within a decade.

“The Fund will not provide in-drought support or replace existing sources of funding,” the draft consultation paper said.

“The Fund will build on existing government drought policies and improve the coordination or integration of Australian and state government drought resilience frameworks and programs.”

The funding plan also notes numerous other Australian Government initiatives and programs that contribute to building drought resilience, with which the Fund aims to align and not duplicate.

“These include, but are not limited to, the Indigenous-designed and led Empowered Communities initiative, the National Landcare Program, the Agriculture Stewardship Package, the Advocate for Soil Health and the Climate Solutions Fund.”

The Productivity Commission will be asked to review the funding plan in its third year to assess its effectiveness.