Major-General Stephen Day.
Major-General Stephen Day. Vanessa Jarrett

Prime Ministers appoints new role to look at drought relief

THE Commonwealth's Coordinator-General for Drought, Major-General Stephen Day, paid a visit to Rockhampton yesterday promising to deliver on drought relief.

Maj-Gen Day had a meeting with Rockhampton Regional councillors and also spoke with farmers and local businesses about their issues.

The Coordinator-General for Drought is a new role, implemented about six weeks ago in light of the current extenuating drought New South Wales and Queensland are facing.

Maj-Gen Day said his role is to "better coordinate the national effort to support drought relief".

"There is a lot going on across all levels of government, businesses and charities...there are some concerns there are some overlaps and gaps, inefficiency, things we might not be doing that we should," he said.

"My role is to better understand the problem across the nation.... devise a plan to coordinate the effort and and get on and deliver it."

He said Rockhampton was an important doorstop on the drought map.

"Knowing Rockhampton is famously the beef capital of Australia and there will be flow-on effect from the drought on businesses here," Maj-Gen Day said.

The concerns Maj-Gen Day said he is looking at are about access to feed, prices, and the long term management of water.

"The recovery... the drought doesn't end when it rains.... for many folks it can take many years before income is meaningfully returned," Maj-Gen Day said.

He also said it was vital get information out there about the range of programs offered from all levels of governments for those drought-affected.

"It is difficult to understand what is available," he said.

Visiting around the eastern states, he said the drought "varied" across the regions.

Parts of Longreach and central/western Queensland are particularly bad because "they have been in drought for so long".

"They are entering their sixth or seventh year.... the drought is chronic, it is patchy... some places are doing okay and others aren't," he said.

An important key of getting through this national crisis was working as a team, Maj-Gen Day said.

"There are people who are doing okay and there are people who are really hurting... we need to work together as a team to help get our fellow citizen through this with some comfort and dignity," he said.