So what would a decent national drought policy look like? It would start by reverting to an understanding the Hawke-Keating government established years ago, but has since been blurred: droughts aren’t a “natural disaster” in the way floods, cyclones and bushfires are. For a start, those others are sudden and short-lived, whereas droughts develop gradually, spread over huge areas and can last for years. As Dorothea Mackellar realised more than a century ago, if you want to be an Australian, regular droughts are part of the deal. Always have been but, thanks to the two C-words we’re not supposed to say, are now likely to become more severe and more frequent. The day may come when not being in drought is the exception. According to former top econocrat Dr Mike Keating, “the possibility of recurring droughts must therefore be planned for and not just treated as bad luck, for which farmers themselves bear no responsibility”. The national drought policy of 1992 required farmers to be more self-reliant and absorb the impact of droughts as something to be expected. Many, many farmers have long been doing just that. Some haven’t bothered and they’re the ones getting most care and concern from… Read full this story
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