Battle against next drought starts now: Toole

FIGHT NOW: Member for Bathurst Paul Toole (centre) said there is a need to prepare now for the next drought.
FIGHT NOW: Member for Bathurst Paul Toole (centre) said there is a need to prepare now for the next drought.

The battle against the next drought begins now with the NSW Government announcing a combined $64 million in this week's 2021-22 NSW Budget over four years for the 'Future Ready Regions' strategy that will help farmers and regional communities grow, thrive and plan for the future.

It feels like just yesterday the entire state was in drought with towns running out of water, crops failing to reach harvest and farmers making heartbreaking decisions regarding their future.

The initiatives in this brand new strategy, like increasing on-farm ag tech and vastly improving weather and climate data, will build more resilient regional communities, increase investment in water security and enable farmers to make more informed business decisions.

New initiatives in the Future Ready Regions strategy include:

  • $48 million to expand the Farms of the Future program to accelerate the adoption of "ag-tech" enabled production methods which make farms more efficient, profitable and resilient;
  • $6 million to fast track investigations into potential groundwater supplies in Western NSW;
  • $6 million to deliver a new 'Farm Business Resilience Planning' pilot;
  • $4 million to upgrade the Enhanced Drought Information System (EDIS) to provide farms with world-leading weather and climate data so they can make better business decisions;
  • Support farm businesses and other landholders to diversify their income through carbon farming and biodiversity offset programs; and
  • Streamline planning requirements to make it easier for primary producers to diversify into agritourism and carry out agricultural programs.

New $30m fund to activate tourism in regional NSW

Big ticket tourism attractions that will put regional towns on the map and improve accessibility for people with disability are set to receive a significant funding boost.

Our new $30 million Regional Tourism Activation Fund will deliver new or upgraded tourism infrastructure as well as improve accessibility and inclusion for people with disability.

Supporting tourism also supports local jobs and expands local economies, creating beneficial flow-on effects for traders and creates new opportunities for investment.

Under Stream One, grants between $200,000 and $5 million are available for projects delivering unique and high impact visitor experiences, while Stream Two provides grants between $50,000 to $500,000 for projects that will improve the accessibility and inclusion of tourism experiences for people with disability.

The $30 million Regional Tourism Activation Fund is part of the $2 billion Regional Growth Fund. Applications opened on 16 June and close on 11 August 2021.

$28m to tackle bushfire threat

The NSW Government will direct $28 million into research and development and be promoting new and emerging industries and technology to better prepare the state for future bushfires.

The NSW Bushfire Response R&D Mission will receive $7 million per year for the next four years as part of this year's 2021-22 NSW Budget.

This focus on new technology to enhance planning, preparation and response will save jobs when a disaster strikes and boost jobs in new industries.

This funding will help establish a Bushfire Technology Network, engage NSW small business to develop and commercialise bushfire technologies and ensure that new technologies are tested by frontline NSW bushfire services.