The current severe drought has deepened and widened in North Queensland, with several more council areas being declared by the Queensland Government, taking the total area of the state officially in drought to a record 86 per cent.

Hinchinbrook MP, Andrew Cripps, said the formal declaration of the Townsville City Council area had officially brought the drought to the Hinchinbrook electorate, although individual property declarations had previously been approved.

“Earlier this year, a number of individual properties were declared in the Townsville City Council area and in the Hinchinbrook Shire Council area, but now we have a blanket declaration in the Townsville City Council area” said Mr Cripps.

“The Hinchinbrook electorate includes the Northern Beaches of Townsville from the mouth of Crystal Creek to the mouth of the Bohle River, as well as hinterland areas and many of these communities and localities have been very dry recently” he said.

“Low rainfall has resulted in extensive browning off of ground cover and a lack of surface water has seen many creeks dry up completely, which has increased the risk and severity of bush fires on Townsville’s Northern Beaches this year”.

Mr Cripps said primary producers within the newly drought declared Townsville City Council area were now eligible to access the Drought Relief Assistance Scheme (DRAS), which included freight subsidies for fodder and water for livestock.

“Support measures also include the Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate, as well as waiving water license fees, discounted water supply electricity charges, land rent rebates and additional funding for social support, community events and mental health”.

Producers wanting to apply for DRAS assistance, including the Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate should contact the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries on 13 25 23. DRAS claim forms and IDP applications can be accessed at www.daff.qld.gov.au.

Water licence fee waivers and land rent rebates will be automatically provided by the Department of Natural Resources and Mines. Primary producers seeking assistance with water supply electricity charges should contact Ergon on 1300 135 210 or www.ergon.com.au.

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