Drought is an enduring feature of the Australian landscape and it has significant economic, social and environmental impacts.
The government reintroduced the Future Drought Fund Bill 2019 to Parliament on 22 July 2019, and now passed, it will establish the Future Drought Fund (the Fund). The Fund will provide a secure revenue stream to be used for drought resilience, preparedness and recovery to help farmers and communities prepare for inevitable future droughts. Healthy farming landscapes with innovative farming techniques will contribute to building drought resilience and a sustainable agriculture sector.
Future Drought Fund
The Fund will begin with an initial credit of $3.9 billion with earnings to be reinvested until the balance reaches $5 billion (expected in 2028-29). With the passage of the legislation, $100 million will be made available annually to support Australian farmers and communities to become more prepared for, and resilient to, the effects of drought.
The government will develop and publish the Drought Resilience Funding Plan (Funding Plan) – a rolling four-year high-level framework – to ensure a coherent and consistent approach is undertaken when considering and providing funding for drought resilience projects. The draft Funding Plan will be informed by independent expert advice from the Future Drought Fund Consultative Committee (the Committee). The Committee will consist of a diverse range of experts in fields such as climate risk, the agriculture industry, drought resilience, economics and rural and regional development. The Funding Plan will also be informed through public consultation over a period of at least 42 days. The Funding Plan will have regard to related drought policies and strategies, including the National Drought Agreement. The Plan is a disallowable instrument and once finalised will be published on this website.
The Funding Plan will be reviewed every four years to ensure emerging priorities are appropriately captured and the Fund remains future-focused. To help inform these reviews, the Productivity Commission will conduct an assessment of each Funding Plan before it expires, including having regard to the economic, social and environmental outcomes.
What projects will be supported?
The Funding Plan will inform the design of the programs and the Committee will provide advice to the Minister for Drought on whether the proposed design of the programs is consistent with the Funding Plan.
Through grants or other arrangements, the Fund is intended to support a wide range of drought resilience measures that benefit all Australians. This includes investment in research and innovation, research extension, the adoption of new technology, improved environmental and natural resource management, infrastructure and community initiatives. This investment will help lift the productivity and profitability of the agriculture sector and enhance the health and sustainability of Australia’s farming landscapes.