Committee could call for drought status in weeks
THE Gympie region had its drought status revoked in May last year, but could it be re-declared sooner rather than later?
Agriculture Minister Mark Furner says that decision depends on the Local Drought Committee's recommendations, which can be made "as they see fit".
Furner's political opponent, Gympie MP Tony Perrett, has renewed his calls for the committee to reconvene as he receives increasing queries from landowners and the media.
"I've asked on their behalf for the Local Drought Committee to be reconvened to discuss our status," Mr Perrett said.
"Two adjoining shires in the region, South and North Burnett are drought declared and they want to know why this part is not.
"Drought doesn't stop at an arbitrary line on a map."
Mr Furner said LDCs were "empowered to meet whenever they deem conditions warrant further assessment".
"The integrity of the drought declaration process relies on LDC's being free to make the recommendations they see fit, free from any political interference," Mr Furner said.
"Political interference in the drought declaration process would be a very serious matter, and as minister I won't stand for it.
"As is always the case, I will make drought declaration decisions based on the recommendations of the independent drought committees for each region."
He said the Queensland Government had committed "more than $740m" to support drought-stricken communities since 2013.
Goomeri producer and LDC member John Cotter said the problem with the Gympie region was the discrepancy between rainfall on the western and eastern reaches of the region.
He said the region could be headed for a possible declaration in the coming weeks if dry weather persisted.
"I've been individually drought declared for two years. We did it the moment the shire came off the drought declaration," Mr Cotter said.
"We've been continually drought declared for about five years.
"I'm on the drought committee.
"Every three months we have a look at it, we last looked at it in about April.
"I think with another couple of weeks of this weather and we could certainly be looking at that (recommending a declaration)."