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South Burnett region reinstated to drought exceptional circumstances: recovery assistance extended in other areas

The Federal Minister for Primary Industries and Energy, John Anderson, today reinstated Drought Exceptional Circumstances (DEC) declarations in the South Burnett region of Queensland.

DEC has been reinstated in the shires of Crows Nest, Esk, Kilkivan, Kingaroy, Murgon, Nanango, Rosalie, Wondai and the portion of Wambo Shire north east of the Warrego Highway.

Mr Anderson said eligible farmers in the South Burnett region would have continuing access to Drought Relief Payment (DRP), while they would also be able to apply for interest subsidies of up to 100% under the exceptional circumstances provisions of the Rural Adjustment Scheme.

He said the package was worth an estimated $22 million to South Burnett farmers.

"The Rural Adjustment Scheme Advisory Council (RASAC) advised me to reinstate the South Burnett region in DEC because of the failure of the recovery anticipated at the time DEC was initially revoked," he said.

"I inspected the region earlier this month and it was very obvious that conditions had deteriorated substantially since DEC was revoked last year and are at least as bad as they were at the height of the drought in 1994.

The Minister also announced a further extension of income support to farm families in areas where the 12-month drought recovery period ended in June.

"Eligible farm families in these areas, which cover a large part of Queensland and New South Wales, will continue to have access to DRP until further notice," Mr Anderson said.

He said that the Government would shortly announce details of new support arrangements for needy farm families experiencing financial hardship as part of its integrated rural policy package.

"The DRP extension for farm families in drought recovery areas will ensure they are able to make a smooth transition from DRP to the new arrangements."

He said he was still to receive a report from RASAC on the Queensland Government's application for the reinstatement of DEC in Mundubbera Shire.

"I asked RASAC to give top priority to the South Burnett application because Mundubbera Shire was only revoked in July and assistance to farmers in the region is not about to end."

He said he expected to receive the report in the near future.

Mr Anderson said he was deeply concerned about the El Nino event which is likely to affect much of eastern Australia in the coming months.

"I will continue to monitor the situation to ensure areas suffering from exceptional drought continue to receive adequate Government support.

Mr Anderson said Drought Relief Payment would help eligible farm families in DEC and DEC recovery areas meet day-to-day living expenses.

"In addition, special assessment for AUSTUDY eligibility by excluding on-farm assets from the assets test will continue, as will special access to Healthcare Cards and Family Payments.

"Farmers in DEC areas are also able to apply for interest subsidies of up to 100% for carry-on finance, debt restructuring and productivity improvement."

Media Contact: Robert Haynes, 06 277 7520; 0419 493 511

AREAS WHERE DEC WAS REVOKED ON 11 JUNE 1996

RECOVERY PERIOD EXTENDED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

NSW

RLPBs Armidale, Carcoar, Casino, Coonamble,

Coonabarabran, Denman-Singleton, Glen Innes, Gloucester,

Grafton, Inverell, Kempsey, Moree, Narrabri, Scone,

Tenterfield, Tamworth, Walgett Warialda

Queensland

Shires: Albert, Allora, Atherton, Aurukun, Balonne,

Beaudesert, Bendemere, Biggenden, Boonah, Booringa,

Brisbane City, Bundaberg, Bungil, Burdekin, Burke,

Caboolture, Cairns, Caloundra, Cambooya, Cardwell,

Carpentaria, Chinchilla, Clifton, Cook, Douglas, Eacham,

Gatton, Gayndah, Glengallan, Gold Coast, Gooburrum,

Gympie, Hervey Bay, Hinchinbrook, Inglewood, Ipswich

City, Isis, Johnstone, Jondaryan, Kilcoy, Kolan, Laidley,

Logan, Mackay, Mareeba, Maroochy, Maryborough,

Millmerran, Mirani, Moreton, Mornington, Mulgrave,

Murilla, Noosa, Perry, Pine Rivers, Pioneer, Pittsworth,

Redcliffe City, Redland, Rosenthal, Sarina, Stanthorpe, Tara,

Taroom, Thuringowa, Tiaro, Toowoomba City, Torres,

Townsville, Waggamba, Wambo (portion south west of the

Warrego Highway), Waroo, Warwick, Whitsunday, Widgee,

Woocoo, Woongarra

Victoria

Old LGAs: Wimmera, Ararat (northern part)

South Australia

LGAs: Unincorporated West, Ceduna, Streaky Bay, Le

Hunte, Elliston

Hundreds: Kiana, Ulipa & Warrow in west of Lower Eyre

Peninsula

Tasmania

Old LGAs: Campbell Town, Fingal, Glamorgan, Oatlands,

Ross, Richmond, Sorell, Spring Bay

AREAS WHERE DEC WAS REVOKED ON 31 DECEMBER 1996

RECOVERY PERIOD ENDING 30 DECEMBER 1997

NSW

The Rural Lands Protection Boards of Hay (Divisions A, C, and D),

Hillston (areas east of "Red Tank", "Trida" and "Whealbah" Roads),

Brewarrina, Balranald (south of Euston Road), Dubbo, Bathurst

(Divisions A and C, Part Division B and Part Division D), Mudgee,

Molong (Divisions A and B), Merriwa and Nyngan (Divisions B, C and D).

Queensland

The Shires of Diamantina and Barcoo.

DROUGHT EXCEPTIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES AREAS REVOKED 7 JULY 1997

Queensland

The Shires of Aramac, Barcaldine, Bauhinia, Blackall, Boulia, Bowen,

Bulloo, Charters Towers, Cloncurry, Croydon, Dalrymple, Duaringa,

Etheridge, Flinders, Herberton, Ilfracombe, Isisford, Jericho, Longreach,

McKinlay, Miriam Vale, Mount Isa, Mundubbera, Murweh, Paroo,

Quilpie, Richmond, Tambo and Winton.

NSW

The Rural Lands Protection Boards of Bourke, Milparinka, Nyngan (Division A), Wanaaring, and Wilcannia (North of the Barrier Highway and north of that portion of the Darling River east of Wilcannia.

DROUGHT EXCEPTIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES AREAS AS AT 28 AUGUST 1997

Queensland

The Shires of Banana, Belyando, Broadsound, Calliope, Crows Nest, Eidsvold, Emerald, Esk, Fitzroy, Kilkivan, Kingaroy, Livingstone, Monto, Mount Morgan, Murgon, Nanango, Nebo, Peak Downs, Rockhampton City, Rosalie, Wondai and Wambo (portion north east of the Warrego Highway).

NSW

The Rural Lands Protection Boards of Balranald (north of Euston Road) Cobar, Hay (Division B), Hillston (areas west of "Red Tank", "Trida" and "Whealbah" Roads), Brewarrins, Balranald (south of Euston oad), Dubbo, Bathurst (Divisions A and C, Part Division B and Part Division D), Mudgee, Molong (Division A and B), Merriwa and Nyngan (Divisions B, C and D).

Queensland

The Shire of Diamintina and Barcoo