By Acting CEO Richard Shannon
Perhaps it was because we were entering the final few weeks of a federal election campaign.
Or maybe because we all now have flood fatigue after months of La Nina and numerous devastating rain events up and down the coast.
Whatever the reason, there is now a real risk of us missing the significance of the rain and flooding event that started the week of Monday 9 May drenching Bowen and ending with yet another flooding of the Lockyer Valley.
Reports from Bowen suggest growers there have lost up to a third of crops planted. The Lockyer Valley has fared even worse.
Even as of now, a fortnight on, the true damage and losses arising from this most recent even are still being revealed. There is a smell of rotten crops that pervades the Valley.
A lot of what wasn’t inundated has since been lost to disease. Machinery is only just getting back into the field, but in many cases just a fraction of the crop is fit for sale.
Crops aside, of greatest concern is the cumulative emotional and financial toll on the people of the Lockyer Valley of this event on the back of a series of events that stretches back to November last year.
We are hearing many of these growers are not going to be able to plant again. There are only so many shocks any small or medium sized business can absorb.
Without replanting we are going to lose not just casual roles, but permanent positions on many farms. These are the breadwinning roles that sustain regional communities.
In terms of a catastrophe across a region, a community and an industry, it would not be out of place to compare this event with the northern monsoon trough of 2019.
Which is why Growcom this week has written to Prime Minister Albanese and Premier Palaszczuk requesting they urgently consider an exceptional circumstances package under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA) for Category C and D that is generous, decisive and impactful.
We recommend this package includes investments in local infrastructure, the environment and community wellbeing, as well as direct assistance for replanting.
To fortify local economies and households, we are recommending the Australian Government create a form of JobKeeper payments to businesses to enable them to keep permanent staff on their books.
For additional relief we are asking the Queensland Government to suspend or defer payments to the state including payroll tax and water and energy charges.