This paper defines drought and reviews the current situation in NSW, including the projected impact of climate change on the frequency and severity of drought.
Introduction: On 30 October 2013, the NSW Government announced $30.4 million in assistance measures for North West NSW primary producers. The package included longer-term preparedness measures and support for dealing with adverse seasonal conditions. On 6 November, the Commonwealth Government reallocated Farm Finance program funding to provide additional support to NSW farmers, particularly those in drought, and on 20 November, the NSW Government announced an additional $7.6 million in-drought support package for North West NSW.
Current COAG drought policy reforms focus on preparing farmers for drought, although provision is also made for in-drought crisis support. Under the NSW Government reforms introduced in February 2013, there has been a move away from in-drought support via ‘drought declarations’ to provision of Seasonal Conditions Reports that help landholders prepare for worsening seasonal conditions. Nonetheless, owing to the “critical need to provide immediate assistance”5, at present North West NSW is in receipt of in-drought support from the NSW Government.
The Opposition primary industries spokesman, Steve Whan, argues that the NSW Government reforms delayed provision of this assistance:
- One of the problems we have with not having an objective measurement of when an area is in drought is we argue about those things rather than making a decision ...
This e-brief defines drought and reviews the current situation in NSW, including the projected impact of climate change on the frequency and severity of drought. Recent policy developments are outlined, with a focus on the Intergovernmental Agreement on National Drought Program Reform; the e-brief ends with stakeholder commentary on the Agreement.