Coordinate the provision of assistance and support to flood-impacted individuals, families, primary producers, businesses and communities to improve their circumstances, by working in collaboration with a range of stakeholders across the Australian and Queensland governments.
$300 million of grants will be made available to primary producers for restocking, replanting and infrastructure rebuilding.
The $300 million grant program was announced on 23 March 2019. At 30 June 2020 a total of 214 approvals to the value of $55.3 illion had been given.
Up to $1.75 billion worth of low-cost loans may be made available to Authorised Deposit-taking Institutions (ADI) to pass on to eligible primary producers.
The Authorised Deposit-taking Institutions (ADI) ADI loans have been placed on hold due to the positive and proactive response of the banking sector in providing improved loan terms to primary producers, including reduced interest rates and deferrals of principal and interest payments.
PM1) The Agency provides leadership to the coordination of assistance to affected communities
PM2) Affected communities utilise Australian Government assistance to contribute to their recovery
PM5) The Agency consults with stakeholders to understand their experiences, requirements and concerns
PM6) Stakeholders report that the Agency contributed to better outcomes through collaboration in design and/or delivery of Australian Government assistance
2019–20 Drought and Flood Agency Corporate Plan, page 14
2019–20 Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements, under PM&C, page 74
ANALYSIS OF PERFORMANCE
The $300 million Restocking, Replanting, and On-farm Infrastructure Grants (RRIG) program is delivered by the Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority (QRIDA) on behalf of the Australian Government in accordance with the National Partnership Agreement on grants assistance to primary producers in the Local Government Areas most significantly impacted by the North Queensland floods.
The Agency co-chairs the RRIG Steering Committee with the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, and QRIDA. The information received from the steering committee highlights the compounding issues confronting primary producers in the region and the importance of making funding available for people to restock and replant when the time is right.
The uptake of the grants has been conservative. This is largely due to the uncertainty in the sector given high cattle prices, poor pasture recovery since the event and a disappointing wet season. in 2019–20. In addition, more recent concerns around live exports, trade issues with China, along with the overlay of COVID-19, are all having an impact on confidence in the agriculture sector in this region.
The Agency has worked closely with relevant Queensland Government agencies to forecast the likely uptake of RRIG grants. The Agency and QRIDA proactively undertake social media campaigns to raise awareness of the RRIG program to increase grant applications. In the last quarter of the financial year QRIDA has particularly focused on the on-farm infrastructure grants during the dry season; the preferred time to undertake infrastructure work given the milder weather.
The Steering Committee is well positioned to identify any genuine challenges, barriers or issues with the grant guidelines and resolve them. This includes amending the guidelines if required to meet needs on-the-ground. The reporting framework supports the Steering Committee to ensure appropriate accountability by focusing on the achievement of outcomes, carrying out of responsibilities, and enhanced performance reporting.
As part of the North Queensland Flood Recovery Package, the Australian Government committed $1.75 billion in low-cost loans to ADIs to support interest rate relief for existing and new business loans to eligible flood-affected primary producers. The ADI loans have been placed on hold due to the positive and proactive response of the banking sector in providing improved loan terms to primary producers, including reduced interest rates and deferrals of principal and interest payments. The Agency will continue to monitor the situation into 2020–21.
Performance Snapshot—The Tritton family
Case study and image provided by QRIDA
Richmond graziers Corbett and Beris Tritton were among hundreds of primary producers to lose cattle, infrastructure and assets during the February 2019 Monsoon Trough. Their ability to get back to business quickly, along with many others, has benefited the region and the industry.
The Trittons lost more than 2,300 head of cattle and suffered damage to assets and infrastructure after flood water and treacherous conditions impacted their property. They estimate their total damage bill topped $4 million.
They were able to access a restocking, replanting and on-farm infrastructure co-contribution grant, administered through QRIDA on behalf of the Australian Government. This helped them restock the cattle they lost and restore their cash flow.
While the Trittons were able to use the grant funding immediately, they said the ability for applicants to draw down the funds when seasons and markets permitted was beneficial to the region and the industry.
“We felt the grant was necessary for us to survive. It was a big hit and it was for a lot of people.”
Corbett said support distributed to the North West following the disaster event was an indication to flood-affected graziers there was help available and the nation depended on them to move forward.