Statement on Future Drought Fund Bill 2019 & Consequential Amendments
On July the 22nd, I along with my Crossbench colleagues, voted with the Government on their Future Drought Fund Bill. The history of this bill highlights the contributions of the Crossbench and its ability to influence better legislative outcomes.
This bill will divert $3.9 Billion in funding from the Building Australia Fund, to two investment vehicles, a fund and a special account that will disperse payments that will help our farmers with drought resilience and preparedness across Australia.
In the years to come, this fund will be essential for adapting agricultural land to worsening climate variability exacerbated by global heating.
Procedurally, this bill passed the House of Representatives without the customary time between readings.
I supported this process because this bill had already been debated extensively in the 45th Parliament. Passing this bill, without delay, would give the Department of Agriculture the time needed for the consultation period before Christmas.
This bill included, in full, amendments from former the Member for Indi, Cathy McGowan, which introduced several strong oversight measures that will ensure the funds are directed, at arm’s length, towards appropriate projects.
These additional measures will require the Minister to consult with a committee as to the plan for the direction of funds and whose committee members must have at least two areas of drought or climate risk expertise.
The public can stay updated on the progress and direction of funding by accessing the Department of Agricultures website upon commencement of the fund.