Drought results in 60% business downturn in western towns
THE Central Queensland region has rallied behind its drought-stricken regions, but we might just be killing them with kindness.
David Phelps, chair of the Western Queensland Drought Committee, said while the Longreach area was genuinely touched by the efforts of strangers to improve their lives, the retail sector was suffering as a result of the free goods and services.
"The businesses are doing it really tough here as well," he said.
"The survey we did of town businesses in July showed that our town business turnover is down by 60% compared with last year, and they have had to lay off around 30% to 40% of staff.
"Unfortunately most people don't realise that, and that is why we gratefully accept the help, and the goods and the services that people are offering us; but we just really want to highlight that businesses are doing it tough, as are the farmers."
Longreach has long been in the grips of drought, with Mr Phelps commenting that there were now "more flies than livestock" in the region.
He said the town, which is home to about 3500 people and over 200 family farms, was made of resilient folk.
"It's hot, dry and dusty here," he said.
"Things are certainly tough but our farmers and our community in general are pretty resilient too. They are hanging in but conditions are hard."
With Christmas approaching, and more people wanting to be charitable as the merry season approaches, Mr Phelps said there was a better way to give to the people of Longreach.
"There are lots of things that keep morale up, and (donating) is fantastic, but if you bring money in to buy those goods in town it's even better because then you are giving twice," he said.