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Farmers in Queensland's southern Murweh Shire to receive full EC drought assistance.

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AFFA03/211WT - 12 August 2003

Farmers in Queensland's southern Murweh Shire to receive full EC drought assistance

Australian Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Warren Truss has today announced another Exceptional Circumstances (EC) declaration in Queensland.

Over 230 farmers in southern Murweh Shire in Queensland can now apply for full EC drought assistance, Mr Truss said.

Small businesses affected by the drought may also be eligible for assistance under the EC declaration.

"I have accepted advice from the National Rural Advisory Council - an independent committee of farmers and agribusiness professionals - to declare all eligible farmers within the southern portion of Murweh Shire to be in Exceptional Circumstances," Mr Truss said.

The northern boundary of the declaration is Angellala Creek from the Booringa Shire boundary to the Warrego Highway, the Warrego Highway to Charleville, and the Charleville-Adavale Road to the Quilpie Shire boundary.

Producers within a seven-kilometre buffer zone to the north of the declared area will also be eligible for assistance. The southern and western sides of the application area are bounded by the South West Queensland EC declared area and the eastern side is bounded by the Western Downs-Maranoa EC declared area.

"With today's EC decision, eligible producers can now apply for interest rate subsidies of up to $100,000 a year for two years, and up to two years of income support," Mr Truss said.

"Eligible producers should apply for EC Relief Payments at their local Centrelink office, or by calling Centrelink's National Drought Hotline 13 23 16 (except on national public holidays)," he said.

"Farmers should contact the Queensland Rural Adjustment Authority on 1800 623 946 to apply for EC interest rate subsidies.

"People operating small businesses experiencing a downturn because of drought in this area can also apply to Centrelink for interest rate relief on new and existing loans of up to $100,000.

"Small-businesspeople seeking assistance should also call Centrelink's National Drought Hotline."

Further media inquiries:

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