Dispute over disaster: SDRC fights for drought recognition
IF TOO much rain is considered a natural disaster, why isn't not enough rain?
That was the question posed by Councillor Cameron Gow, who, alongside the rest of the Southern Downs Regional Council, is seeking to have the worst drought on record nationally recognised as a natural disaster.
The classification would trigger a number of benefits to drought-stricken communities across Queensland and compel a shared response from all levels of government.
In a response to council's claim, Member for Maranoa David Littleproud said droughts were not declared as natural disasters in Australia.
"Declarations of this nature are a matter for state and local governments, not the Federal Government,” he said.
Council wants to work with state and federal governments to overturn the legal exclusion of drought from the classification of natural disasters.
This suggestion was included within a submission that will be presented to the Federal Government.
"It's something we believe state and federal governments need to get on board with,” Cr Gow said. "We want to work with them to change how droughts are classified in the future.”
The drought is already included in council's local disaster management plan to ensure "everything is well at hand”.
"It's an agenda item every time the local disaster management group meets,” Cr Gow said.
But the councillor said the classification was essential to responding to the severity of the current drought.
"It's something the Southern Downs has never had to deal with before,” he said.
"If the drought is bad enough and goes on for an extended period of time, it's up to the State and Federal Government to come up with solutions,” he said.
"It's already beyond the scope of local government.”