Councils call for a better approach to dealing with drought
Queensland councils have called for a renewed focus on how to protect towns and regional economies from the impact of the current devastating drought, saying policies aimed only at the farm gate are not enough to fully address the issue.
In a comprehensive submission to both the Federal and State Governments, the Local Government Association of Queensland said councils needed to be better supported to lead drought resilience in their communities.
The submission calls for a formal partnership on drought between all three levels of government and the appointment of local drought resilience co-ordinators to better equip local communities to deal with the challenges of drought.
LGAQ chief executive Greg Hallam said a more effective response to the ongoing drought need to start with the recognition that not only farm businesses, but entire communities and economies were impacted.
“Drought policies should enable communities and support local economies,” he said.
“That will help curb the population drain from the regions and encourage local communities to come up with their own initiatives to combat drought.”
He said that while councils welcomed funding through the likes of the Federal Government’s Drought Communities Program, strict eligibility requirements were hidering councils from introducing initiatives such as “buy local” campaigns.
“These communities cannot afford to have bureaucratic red-tape delay deploying this funding on job-creating initiatives,” he said.
“The longer funding is delayed, the more vulnerable communities are to losing people from their communities.”
He said the LGAQ believed the best way to ensure local communities overcame the challenge of this and future droughts was through appointing local drought co-ordinators who could draw together all three levels of government and work to cut through red tape.
The submission also points out that the governance approach used for natural disasters _ empowering local communities to make decisions about preparing for and managing disasters but allowing them to draw and state and federal resources as needed _ could also work in relation to drought.
He cautioned that the LGAQ was not arguing that droughts should be formally declared natural disasters.
“But we are saying that the arrangements used by communities to prepare for and respond to natural disasters would help make sure that government, non-government and private sector resources are deployed efficiently and effectively in meeting the needs of local communities,” he said.
Read the LGAQ's policy agenda 'Sustaining communities through drought'.
Local Government Association of Queensland
LG House, 25 Evelyn Street, Newstead Qld 4006
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