Don’t forget the West

Discussion leads to action: communities will keep talking about drought in West Queensland.

Discussion leads to action: communities will keep talking about drought in West Queensland.

As Rockhampton and near areas have their moment with the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie the call is ringing out to Queensland – Don’t forget the still drought affected west.

The huge amounts of rain seen along the coast and near inland has for the main, bypassed the west and as headlines focus on floods and downpours the Western Queensland Drought Appeal is, sadly, very much alive and recent survey work undertaken by the group shows towns and communities are suffering.

Appeal spokesman David Phelps says the group has been using a Queensland Health grant to employ social scientist Dana Kelly to gather data to inform federal and state planning in future.

A survey of business across the west, the second such survey for the group, shows business turnover has gone down even more in the last six months with latest findings showing another 20 to 30 per cent drop since September last year.

He says things remain grim.

“For some businesses, tourism starting up again will help, but there is still a massive cash flow problem.”

“I’d like to see governments take a broad community perspective. Drought policy might need to focus on agricultural businesses, but it at least needs to acknowledge the effect on towns.”

“Once the drought is finally over there will still be a cash drought, and the premier’s director-general, Dave Stewart has pledged to support us through that 12-month period as well.

“This means the clear majority of donations, about 98 per cent, are going directly to graziers.”

To make a donation: wqda.org.au/