‘Disturbing’ drought report released

The report says extreme temperature incidents will occur every one to two years. (Getty Images: Ian Waldie, file photo)ABC News, 6th July.

The Federal Government has released a report into the link between drought and climate change, which it says will trigger major review of drought policy.

The report is by the Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO and is the first of three commissioned by the Government.

The report warns that extreme conditions previously thought to occur once in every 20 to 25 years, could become as frequent as every one or two years.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has told ABC1’s Insiders the report paints a very disturbing picture about the future of droughts in Australia.

"When it comes to exceptional or extreme drought, exceptionally high temperatures, the historical assumption that this occurred once every 20 years has now been revised down to between every one and two years," he said.

"Exceptional circumstances drought conditions … will occur twice as often and with twice the area of droughted parts of Australia included.

"Now this is a serious revision of the impact of climate change on drought."

Agriculture Minister Tony Burke says it means drought assistance policy will have to be re-written.

"If we fail to review drought policy, if we were to continue the neglect and pretend that the climate wasn’t changing, we’d be leaving our farmers out to dry well and truly," he said.

"We’ve introduced these reviews so we can get the policy parameters right. The ground rules have changed, we need government policy now to catch up with what the climate’s delivering to our farmers."

Mr Burke says the report has also found farmers need more up to date and specific information about the changing climate conditions in their areas.

"We’re not going to be telling people where in Australia is viable to farm and where isn’t," he said.

"These are business decisions that people will make, but we want them to be able to make them, based on the best available information, and based on solid Government policy surrounding it."

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