At the intersection of science and politics: Defining exceptional drought

David H. White, Linda Courtenay Botterill, Bruce O’Meagher

Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookChapterpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Australia introduced the National Drought Policy (NDP) in 1992 based on principles of self-reliance and risk management (see Chapter 4). The NDP was an agreement between the national and state governments which sought, for the first time, to deliver a nationally consistent approach to drought policy. Based on these principles, the governments agreed to provide additional support for drought-related research and development and improved farm management practices and to reorient their direct farm assistance policies away from ad hoc assistance to “farmers in trouble”, i.e., towards farm business and welfare support directed at increased self-reliance and risk management based on objective, science-driven decision making. Against this background, the NDP included recognition that occasionally farmers face rare and severe events that are outside the preparedness strategies of even the best managers. These events were classified as “exceptional circumstances” (EC). The declaration of EC provided a trigger initially for the provision of farm business support
and after 1994 for farm family welfare assistance to individual farm units by the
national government. This assistance comprised extremely generous access to
components of the welfare system (including income support) and generous interest ratesubsidies previously denied. Although the state governments had agreed to phase out the provision of drought-related support, not all states have done so by the time of writing.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFrom Disaster Response to Risk Management
Subtitle of host publicationAustralia's National Drought Policy
EditorsLinda Courtenay Botterill, Donald A. Wilhite
Place of PublicationNetherlands
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781402031243
ISBN (Print)9781402031236
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameAdvances in Natural and Technological Hazards Research
ISSN (Print)1878-9897
ISSN (Electronic)2213-6959


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