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'Business as usual' as drought relief reviewed.

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The Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP Shadow Minister for Environment, Heritage and the Arts Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs Federal Liberal Member for Murray

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Media Enquiries: Robert Hardie 02 6277 4477 / 0418 432 909

‘Business as usual’ as drought relief reviewed

A review of the Exceptional Circumstances (EC) funding arrangements will be carried out

by the Federal Government to assess future funding arrangements.

However, until the review was complete, it will be ‘business as usual’ for farmers and

regions receiving EC under the previous guidelines. Where reviews are done, these reviews

will be carried out under existing guidelines.

“The Federal Government will undertake the review in three parts”, Federal Member for

Murray, Dr Sharman Stone, said.

“The Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO will undertake a climatic assessment of rural

Australia and the effect of climate change on exceptional climatic events. They are due to

report next month.

“The second part consists of an independent panel to review the social impacts of drought.

The Productivity Commission will then evaluate the drought assistance programmes across

States and Territories as well as Commonwealth assistance.

“Most importantly there will be no changes to current EC provisions until the review has

been concluded, probably in February 2009.

Dr Stone said the Government’s review of the EC was welcomed and was being developed

by the Coalition, but the Federal Government had still not shown whether it would spend

money on on-farm water infrastructure.

“As well, the Government’s decision to buy back water before undertaking any assessments

of the socio-economic impacts was a serious policy failure. This will further distort the

price from of remaining water in the Murray Darling Basin, ensuring some areas take far

longer to recover from the drought than necessary.