By Growcom CEO Stephen Barnard
The request to the Australian and Queensland governments is to let the money flow in response to the extraordinary rain and flood event we’ve just witnessed over the Wide Bay, Fraser Coast, South-East and Southern Queensland.
Let the support payments flow like the flood waters that have come down the Lockyer Creek, and the many other streams, creeks and rivers in these regions.
Our thoughts will especially be with those growers in these regions who will likely lose the lot, with their entire properties inundated. With their next crop now many months away, cash flow emerges as a bigger problem than the water.
In response to past disasters, exceptional circumstances grants of typically up to $50,000 have been offered to help pay the costs of clean-up and reinstatement of primary production enterprises, with the first $10,000 available up front and the last $40,000 only available with full evidence of having paid invoices.
Given the cash flow constraints for some growers, we will be asking administrators to be more flexible with how this second tranche is released.
To assist government agencies make a determination about the severity of this latest event in each region and the level of support to be offered, we are encouraging primary producers to complete a damage estimate survey just as soon as it is safe to do so.
We are using for the first time a single survey, jointly administered by the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and agriculture industry bodies, which will streamline this process. You can find the survey at https://arcg.is/1j5Ge8.
Further down the track we’d expect to see these impacted regions become eligible for concessional loans to assist with essential working capital and getting the next crop in the ground.
Rather than relying on a government bailout, every grower will agree it’s better to take out insurance. It’s just that with the increasing regularity, severity and cost associated with these events, premiums are only getting further out of reach.
Despite this latest disaster still unfolding, it’s appropriate to highlight the commitment made by the Queensland Government ahead of the 2017 election to review their stamp duty on agricultural insurance with a view to removing it, in line with NSW and Victoria.
This is a commitment that cannot be kicked into the long grass forever. This coming state budget presents Treasurer Dick and Deputy Premier Miles an ideal opportunity to grasp the nettle.