CHANGE OF HEART: Agricultural Minister Mark Furner may be asked to re-declare the Western Downs in Drought.
CHANGE OF HEART: Agricultural Minister Mark Furner may be asked to re-declare the Western Downs in Drought. Kevin Farmer

Committee to make rare move

THE drought committee which oversees the Western Downs will gather next week, in a rare mid-term meeting.

A lack of rain and growing pressure from the agriculture community has forced the committee to reconsider their decision in April to remove the Western Downs from the drought-declared list.

According to one member of the committee, who wished to remain anonymous, the committee will indicate to the minister the Western Downs should be drought-declared.

"Hopefully by next week we will have something started and get the wheels in motion,” the committee member said.

"Five out of the eight members who have responded have indicated they believe the Western Downs should be drought-declared.”

The meeting next week will involve all members as well as a representative from the Department of Agriculture. The final decision will rest with the minister, Mark Furner, but the committee member said it is rare for a minister to go against the committee.

"It is rare for meetings of a drought committee to happen in the middle of a term,” the committee member said.

"We will see if we vote to place the Western Downs back onto the list, if the minister will be stubborn because this is rare.”

The committee member said he felt confident all members will vote in favour of the region being drought-declared, along with the representative from the department.

April's decision to remove the region from the list was a difficult one, which has gone wrong according to the member. He said patchy rain in February meant the decision could have gone either either way, and the bad weather had made the decision go wrong.


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