Critical WA projects missed in Federal Government’s Future Drought Fund

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Jenne BrammerThe West Australian
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Drought in WA's Southern Range Lands. Deceased animals are pictured near water troughs at Granite Peak.
Camera IconDrought in WA's Southern Range Lands. Deceased animals are pictured near water troughs at Granite Peak. Credit: Simon Santi The West Australian Picture: Simon Santi

The Federal Government’s first $100 million allocation from its Future Drought Fund has bypassed critical WA projects but the State Government has vowed to keep fighting for its fair share.

The WA Government had submitted four high priority projects for funding consideration. These included research and development projects to regenerate degraded and dehydrated lands, projects to prove and promote on-farm desalination, a boost to strategic community water supplies in the grainbelt and support for horticulture on the Gnangara Mound.

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud announced the eight Australian projects to benefit from the fund’s first $100m round today, which did not include any from WA’s priority list.

The Federal Government selected a range of planning exercises, training programs and networking opportunities, to receive the funding.

One allocation included $20.3m to a drought resilience research and adoption program, which would establish two regionally-located drought resilience adoption and innovation hubs, as well as providing innovation grants.

There was also $20mprovided for afarm business resilienceprogram involving training to strengthen farmers’ strategic business management skills. The program also helps farmers develop a business plan to build risk management capacity and drought resilience.

WA Water Minister Dave Kelly said once again, the Federal Government ignored the needs of WA.

“This is a disappointing outcome for WA farmers and for regional communities, who know that climate change is drying out our State and who are looking for long-term solutions,” he said.

“We will continue to fight for a fair share of drought and water infrastructure funding for WA, to deliver the support and change our State needs as the impacts of climate change worsen.”

Ms MacTiernan said while any funding from the Federal Government was welcome, this was a lost opportunity for WA farmers.

“The projects we proposed offered real, on-the-ground solutions to long-term, systemic dry conditions across WA’s pastoral and agricultural regions,” she said.

“Unfortunately, it is difficult to see this first $100m allocation helping to solve the chronic drought issues facing our farmers.”

The Federal Government’s $3.9 billion (growing to $5b) in the Future drought fund will see $100m made available each year for drought resilience projects.

Mr Littleproud said it was a national fund that all states, organisations and individuals could choose to engage with.

“No state has been singled out to receive funding, there was no allocation by jurisdiction, that was never the intention of the fund,” Mr Littleproud said.

“It’s also a bit rich coming from the Western Australian Government given their track record for providing drought assistance to farmers.

“Of all the states it has been Western Australia that has done three fifths of bugger all with their drought support.”

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