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Government receives report on social impact of drought.

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The Hon. Tony Burke MP Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

Government receives report on social impact of drought

30 September 2008 DAFF08/133B

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Tony Burke today received the final report from the independent expert panel looking at the social impact of drought.

Mr Burke said he would take the time to consider the report before it is released to the public and the Government provides a response.

The panel held 25 public meetings across the country, including in the Northern Territory, NSW, Western Australia, Victoria, Tasmania, Queensland and South Australia.

More than 1,000 people attended the meetings and the panel also received more than 236 public submissions.

“Today’s report is another important step in the Rudd Government’s plans to improve the drought support system and ensure it works better for farmers,” Mr Burke said.

“I thank the panel, including Chair Peter Kenny, for their thorough work and commitment in touring Australia to listen to farmers and rural communities first-hand.

“This is the first time a national government has engaged farmers, their families and communities and asked how the drought is impacting on them personally.”

Peter Kenny briefed the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Minister Burke earlier this month on the panel’s initial findings.

He discussed the need for an improved drought policy which helps farmers plan for the future and prepare and adapt for the social, environmental and economic impacts of future droughts.

Peter Kenny was joined on the panel by Sabina Knight, Mal Peters, Daniela Stehlik, Barry Wakelin, Sue West and Lesley Young.

The report on the social impact of drought was one of three commissioned by the Government as part of the overall review of drought policy.

The other two reports are a review of future climate projections by the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology, released in July, and an economic assessment by the Productivity Commission, which is expected to be released in draft form later this year.