The Australian government has announced one billion Australian dollars (686.7 million U.S. dollars) package in drought relief funding for farmers and businesses.
Prime Minister (PM) Scott Morrison, Deputy PM Michael McCormack, Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie and Drought Minister David Littleproud announced the package on Thursday.
“We are stepping up our drought response once again to meet the increasing needs as the drought’s effects also step up.
“Today’s announcement triples this to more than 1 billion dollars since the election, as well as more than 1 billion dollars in new interest free loans, to see people through,” Morrison said.
Speaking also, McKenzie said that a new loans programme for small businesses and making existing drought loans interest-free for two years would deliver immediate support for everything from buying fodder to transporting stock and agisting cattle through to paying staff and purchasing new equipment.
“These loans mean farmers and small business owners can do what they need to, right now at zero cost.
“Farmers will not have to pay a cent for the next two years and we’ll keep assessing the programme if the drought runs longer than that to ensure repayments are affordable,” McKenzie said.
Australia is a continent defined by extremes, and recent decades have seen some extraordinary climate events.
However, droughts, floods, heatwaves, and fires have battered Australia for millennia.
According to The Conversation Africa, an independent source of news and views from the academic and research community, Australia is systematically underestimating its drought and flood risk because weather records do not capture the full extent of rainfall variability.
It said in May 2016 that based on research it carried out, decisions by the government were being taken on the basis of incomplete information.
“What’s more, Australia’s increasing population and development will mean that water demands and exposure to droughts and floods are likely to have been different in the past to what they are now (and will be in the future).
“Therefore, given that the factors used to quantify risk are most likely wrong, it implies that current hydroclimatic risk assessments are not representative of the true level of risk,” it said