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Minister Truss announces drought review panel.



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AFFA03/329WT - 9 November 2003

Minister Truss announces drought review panel

Australian Agriculture Minister Warren Truss today announced the membership of a panel, which will conduct a nationwide review of drought policy.

To be chaired by Professor Beth Woods, Suncorp Metway Professor in Agribusiness at the University of Queensland's Gatton campus, the panel will discuss drought preparedness and drought relief measures with farmers across the country.

"The panel will participate in a series of forums nationwide to hear the views of rural and regional industries on the effectiveness of all governments' responses to drought," Mr Truss said. "Since 2000, I have been advocating the need for a new, more inclusive and fairer approach to drought policy. In particular, I have been keen to reform the delivery of Exceptional Circumstances assistance.

"In the past the States have been unwilling to agree to any reforms which may cost them any money. I still believe the best response to drought will come from a genuine partnership, with all parties having input into decision making and sharing some of the fiscal responsibilities. In the face of State resistance, the Australian Government has acted unilaterally wherever we could to provide support faster and more generously than ever before.

"The findings of the review will be considered at the National Drought roundtable next year, where the focus will be on shaping the future of the nation's drought policy."

Mr Truss said the panel's secretariat would be based in the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and their meetings around the nation would be organised in conjunction with the National Farmers' Federation.

The members of the drought review panel are:

● Prof Beth Woods, Professor in Agribusiness at UQ, former chair of

RIRDC, former board member of RASAC and the CSIRO. ● Dr Wendy Craik, chair of the National Rural Advisory Council, the

independent body that provides advice on Exceptional Circumstances (EC) applications to the Australian Government. Dr Craik is a former chief executive officer of the National Farmers' Federation (NFF). ● Mr Dexter Davies, chair of the WA Ministerial Dry Seasons Advisory

Committee. Mr Davies is a farmer from Wyalkatchem. ● Mrs Marie Lally, immediate past National President of the Country

Women's Association. A CWA member for 35 years, Mrs Lally manages marketing and accounting for her family's farm business enterprise on the Eyre Peninsula, which grows wheat, barley, canola, breeding merino sheep and fat lambs. In addition to her CWA involvement she has served on a number of national rural bodies, including the National Rural Health Alliance and the National Rural Women's Secretariat.

● Mr Geoff Crick, Currently Treasurer of the National Farmers'

Federation, Mr Crick has also served as the Treasurer of the Victorian Farmers' Federation for the past ten years. Mr Crick has a strong background in the finance industry.

A copy of the Terms of Reference for the review is attached.

Drought Review Panel

Overview

1. A key objective of the Drought Review Panel is to consult with farmers, communities, peak industry associations, related organisations, and local, State and Australian government stakeholders.

2. The Drought Review Panel will visit each State and participate in a series of forums, to hear first hand the views of industry and other affected groups on drought reform. These State visits will be organised in conjunction with the National Farmers' Federation.

3. The Drought Review Panel will prepare a report presenting the views of key stakeholders to be lodged with the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry no later than 28 February 2004.

4. Submissions to the Drought Review Panel are welcome, and should be lodged by 6 February 2004.

Terms of Reference

5. The Drought Review Panel shall prepare a report for consideration at the National Drought Roundtable, which canvasses the views of key stakeholders on:

● The appropriateness of Australian and State Government drought

assistance measures provided during the drought, including: ❍ the timeliness and accessibility of Australian and State

assistance measures; and ❍ the role of Farm Management Deposits and other risk

management facilities;

● Key elements of future drought policy including:

❍ whether existing drought assistance arrangements should be

retained, modified or replaced; ❍ alternative assistance measures and/or drought preparedness

policies that could be adopted, including drought management planning; ❍ the use of tax incentives for drought mitigation works; and

❍ income contingent loans for drought relief;

● The adequacy of research on climate variability and its impacts on

agriculture.

Submissions to the Drought Review Panel can be mailed to:

Drought Review Panel Secretariat Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry PO Box 858 CANBERRA ACT 2601

or lodged electronically at: droughtpanel@daff.gov.au

Further media inquiries:

Minister Truss' office: Tim Langmead - 02 6277 7520 or 0418 221 433

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