Date of this Version
The objectives of Australia’s National Drought Policy (NDP), agreed to by Commonwealth (national), state, and territory ministers in 1992, are to:
• encourage primary producers and other sections of rural Australia to adopt self-reliant approaches to managing the risks stemming from climatic variability;
• maintain and protect Australia’s agricultural and environmental resource base during periods of extreme climate stress; and
• ensure early recovery of agricultural and rural industries consistent with long-term sustainable levels.
Under the NDP, Australian farmers are expected to assume greater responsibility for managing the risks arising from climatic variability. This requires integrating financial and business management with production and resource management to ensure that the financial and physical resources of farm businesses are used efficiently. Details of the NDP and its implementation are described in previous issues of Drought Network News (White, 1992 and 1993; White et al., 1993a).
Since the signing of the National Drought Policy Statement in 1992, the states and territories have moved to implement the range of measures spelled out in the NDP (White, 1993) by:
• implementing the National Property Management Planning Campaign, with emphasis on education in effective risk management, sustainable agriculture, and drought preparedness;
• phasing out transaction-based subsidies, particularly freight subsidies for the transport of fodder, water, and livestock provided by state and territory governments;
• providing financial assistance through the Rural Adjustment Scheme (RAS) to farmers exposed to exceptional drought circumstances; and
• undertaking drought-related research and development, with emphasis on drought prediction, monitoring, and management.