September 17, 2019
Former National Farmers Federation president Brent Finlay has been appointed chairman of the new Future Drought Fund consultative committee.
Federal Minister for Water Resources, Drought, Rural Finance, Natural Disaster and Emergency Management David Littleproud announced the membership of the independent committee on Tuesday.
In the past, Mr Finlay has been a critic of Federal politicians, accusing them of failing the bush by shirking responsibility on national drought policy.
In 2018, he called on the government to start rewarding good farmers who prepare for drought.
In February this year, current NFF president Fiona Simson praised the Future Drought Fund legislation for doing just this.
“Drought is an integral part of farming in most parts of Australia. Yet to date, no Australian government has been able to successfully determine how to best help farmers and rural communities prepare for, manage and recover from drought,” she said.
“The Prime Minister’s resolve to establish the Future Drought Fund has taken drought policy beyond band-aid measures that prop up while we are in drought.”
Mr Littleproud said the Future Drought Fund committee was an important milestone in taking action on drought.
It will deliver $100 million a year in drought resilience and preparedness programs.
The committee will develop, after public consultation, a Drought Resilience Funding Plan.
This plan will determine what types of programs are eligible for funding and will be reviewed every four years.
Measures to be supported could include research and innovation, new technology, better environmental and natural resource management and infrastructure.
The fund will begin with $3.9 billion in initial credit with earnings to be reinvested until the balance reaches $5 billion.
“The Future Drought Fund was established to give drought-prone Australians the best tools to plan and prepare for drought and sustain their livelihoods and communities,” Mr Littleproud said.
“To ensure best use of the Future Drought Fund, the Consultative Committee will seek input directly from drought-vulnerable communities for the Drought Resilience Funding Plan.
“This committee is made up of people with track records of success in agricultural economics, managing climate risk, rural and regional development and natural resource management.
“What’s more – they come from rural and regional communities across Australia and the committee is 80 per cent women.”
The other members of the committee are Dr Kate Andrews, Dr Wendy Craik AM, Dr Elizabeth Peterson and Ms Caroline Welsh.
Dr Craik is Chair of the Climate Change Authority and has roles with the Reserve Bank of Australia, the Australian Farm Institute, and the NSW Marine Estate Management Authority.
Dr Andrews is the director of Agrifutures and previously led the Lake Eyre Basin Co-ordinating Group.
Dr Peterson is an adjunct senior lecturer at the School of Agriculture at the University of Western Australia.
Ms Welsh has had roles with GWMWater, Lodden Mallee Regional Development Australia Committee, Department of Primary Industries and the Birchip Cropping Group.
The committee members will begin work later this month.