Pastoralist Lachlan Gall stands at the bottom of one of his empty dams on his property at Langawirra Station north of Broken Hill, New South Wales, Monday August 20, 2018. With New South Wales 100% drought declared farmers are off loading their stock in record numbers. (AAP Image/David Mariuz) NO ARCHIVING

Is 90 per cent of NSW drought affected and 30 per cent of the state in severe drought?


July 2, 2019

The Statement

“We’ve still got 90 per cent of the state in some level of drought declaration and 30 per cent in severe drought”.

NSW Farmers Association CEO Peter Arkle. July 1, 2019. 

The Analysis

NSW Farmers Association CEO Peter Arkle told Sky News TV that drought conditions had not improved a lot over the past 12 months and he was seeking support from the banks for farmers with no income who were getting council rates bills that had increased 10 per cent on the previous year. Mr Arkle said farmers were still doing it very tough having to sell a lot of stock and being unable to plant crops or suffering crop failure. 

AAP FactCheck examined Mr Arkle’s claim “we’ve still got 90 per cent of the state in some level of drought declaration and 30 per cent in severe drought”.

NSW Farmers Association spokesperson told AAP FactCheck the source of Mr Arkle’s drought figures was the NSW Department of Primary Industries combined drought indicator. The indicator is an interactive tool which is updated daily and is used by the department to track seasonal conditions through five phases of drought. 

The drought indicator figures across NSW for July 1, 2019, the day Mr Arkle was interviewed, were: non drought: 0.8 per cent, recovering: 1.8 per cent, drought affected: 60.1 per cent, drought: 22.2 per cent and intense drought: 15.1 per cent. 

Based on these figures Mr Arkle was correct in claiming 90 per cent of NSW was suffering some level of drought. However, he was wrong in claiming 30 per cent was in severe/intense drought as the official figure is 15.1 per cent. The severe drought areas are mainly in the upper Hunter, Northern Tablelands, upper North West and the upper Western regions.

A NSW Farmers Association spokesperson told AAP FactCheck Mr Arkle may have been using old figures when he stated 30 per cent.

However, a year ago the percentage of NSW suffering severe drought was still 15 per cent. As of 30 June 2018, approximately 99 per cent of the state was covered by one of the three drought categories with up to 40 per cent drought affected, 44 per cent in drought and 15 per cent in intense drought

The Verdict

Ambiguous – It is not possible to determine the veracity of the statement, or it has an equal weighting of true and false elements.

First published July 2, 2019  18:35 AEST

All information, text and images included on the AAP Websites is for personal use only and may not be re-written, copied, re-sold or re-distributed, framed, linked, shared onto social media or otherwise used whether for compensation of any kind or not, unless you have the prior written permission of AAP. For more information, please refer to our standard terms and conditions.