(Image courtesy, Australian Government 2018. “Councils offer aid to drought-stricken farmers“)
By Spencer D Gear PhD
There are heartbreaking examples across Australia of how a long drought is creating devastation, especially for farmers in the outback.
1. Messages from the media
How are the mass and social media portraying it?
The Guardian Australia Edition published an article in 2019, “Just one in 20 Australian news stories about drought mention climate change,” 2 August.
Just one in 20 Australian news stories about drought mention climate change…. However, only around one in 20 news stories about the drought mention climate change. An analysis of media coverage of the drought was prepared for Guardian Australia by Streem, a media monitoring company.
NSW Farmers produced the story, “The day the city woke up to the drought,” May 2019. In it these examples and photos were given:
The role of the media and the perception it relays to consumers and even foreign trade partners is a contentious topic, hotly debated at the Global Food Forum (GFF) in Sydney in late March, where farmers, journalists and agribusiness leaders met to discuss the future prosperity of agriculture.
(Emotive headlines: there was a concentrated focus on the drought by newspapers, television and the internet in mid-2018. This was later followed by ‘Adopt a Farmer‘ campaign launched in May 2019.)
ABC News, Brisbane, Qld wrote, “Australia’s drought crisis,”
Farmers are facing ruin across New South Wales and Queensland in what some are calling the worst drought in living memory, with costs of stock feed and transport spiralling….
Large swathes of eastern Australia have been in drought for periods ranging from a year to seven years, with the record dry conditions prompting calls for further federal and state measures.
ABC News, Rural reported in 2018, “Challenging the public perception of drought: not all farmers are ‘busted cockies with starving animals,” 7 August:
“In the media at the moment all you seem to see is busted cockies with starving animals. I don’t know if that is a great reflection of what is happening out there,” Scone farmer Adam Williamson said.
“These are times where there’s a lot of judgment on people not doing the right thing, and I don’t think the industry wants to be tarred with such a brush.”
Almost 100 per cent of New South Wales is either in drought, on drought watch or experiencing the onset of drought, while 57 per cent of Queensland is classified as in drought.
Mr Williamson, who has been experiencing dry conditions for two years, said many in Queensland and New South Wales had planned for drought and destocked early, while also setting aside reserve fodder or grain.
So the media reflects on tough times for farmers in regional, outback Australia. Some coverage blames climate change for this disaster.
What is the Australian government’s view (Department of Agriculture)? Part of the Plan for Drought response, resilience and preparedness is:
This Plan cannot make it rain; no plan can. And the Plan is not just about responding to and preparing for drought—it is about giving our farmers and regional communities hope for the future and building resilience….
Putting food on the table of the farmers who feed the nation
Farm Household Allowance (FHA) is an income support payment for farmers and their partners experiencing financial hardship, regardless of its cause.
The package of assistance includes:
· a fortnightly payment—$105,266 total payment over four years per household where both partners are on FHA
· allowances to help with expenses like rent, phone and medicine
· a Health Care Card
· a financial assessment of the farm business (worth up to $1,500)
· funding to help develop skills, access training and pay for professional advice (worth up $4,000).
FHA was established on 1 July 2014. In 2019 an independent review panel made recommendations for improvements to FHA. In response to the review, and in recognition of the ongoing drought conditions, the government has made, or is in the process of making, a number of improvements to ensure that the payment is more reflective of the needs of farmers facing financial hardship.
These changes mean more farmers will have access to vital income support.
It is true this government’s Plan cannot make the rain come. What an amazingly practical and basic statement! But it’s missing something profound: Please answer the question: Who can make it rain?
There was this urgent plea on Instagram:
Farmers are sharing horrific photographs of the impact of the drought on social media, along with the hashtag scottmorrisonwhereareyou. Source: Instagram.com/thewestiswaiting
A new viral Instagram page called ‘The West is Waiting’ was launched earlier this week and is already gaining traction online. Farmers who set up the campaign said the purpose is to flood the internet with images of people, places and business that have been, are being, or are about to be, destroyed by the drought.
Farmers are encouraging those impacted by the harsh conditions to use the #scottmorrisonwhereareyou
hashtag on social media and share their images and stories. The aim is for the gut-wrenching photographs to go viral and capture Morrison’s attention. https://www.instagram.com/p/B2fnoBpD-eF/
2. An example of Queensland heartache
Queensland Country Life posted this story on Facebook with a link to, “Central and north west graziers in need of a start or follow-up rain“, 18 January 2021. In the article, it provided these contrasting photographs:
“The green tinge in paddocks in north west and here in central west Queensland is deceiving, with much of it being weeds rather than growth from grass tussocks.”
The article stated:
“Matt and Amanda Bauer at Greendale to the west of Tambo, are in a pocket that’s not received even a hint of a break in the season yet.
They have rainfall records stretching back to the 1890s and say this is the first time those records show four consecutive years of less than 325mm on the property.
Recent rainfall records at Greendale, west of Tambo.
“We’ve been here for 27 years and this is definitely the worst we’ve experienced,” Mr Bauer said.
The pain of waiting while rain has fallen around them has been compounded by forecasts of 100mm or more by the Bureau of Meteorology that haven’t eventuated.
“We did expect a break by now, and it hasn’t happened,” Mr Bauer said. “We’re in a pocket that’s just missed out.”
They’ve been saved by their property Glenariff at Stonehenge, which was in the line of storms in 2019 and which still has some grass, but have been seeking out agistment options in recent days.
“February 18 was when it rained at Greendale last year,” Mr Bauer said. “But we’re going to need a lot of rain to turn this around.”
2.1 Where is Greendale, Qld?
(Image courtesy bonzle.com)
“The nearest more populous place is the village of Tambo which is 18km away with a population of around 360.”
3. What is the solution for more rain?
Yes, Australia needs to build more dams and proceed with plans like those for the Murray-Darling basin. Sometimes cloud-seeding may be helpful but who sends the clouds? Australians and the government need to be generous to those suffering through these severe catastrophes with practical and financial help.
But there’s a more fundamental and essential conclusion. ABC News Southern Qld reported: “Two-week-old baby Clay ‘brings rain’ to drought-stricken Queensland as producers rejoice,” 21 January 2021.
Wide Bay Creek is running at Kilkivan, Qld after 61mm of rain in recent days. (Supplied: Piggy in The Middle) Kilkivan is 50.1 km W/NW of Gympie, Qld.
Mason Mayne from Kilkivan had 61mm of rain in recent days, which got the creek running.
“We’ve been really lucky here,” he said.
“We had rain in December, and we’ve had good follow-up falls.
“The grass is growing like crazy and our tanks are overflowing.”
The Department of Agriculture and Queensland’s drought committee will meet after the wet season and make its drought declaration recommendations in April.
Did you get it? A brand-new baby brought the generous rain to Mitchell Qld. For the rain that came to Kilkivan, “We’ve been lucky here.” How much luck brings rain? Surely this is a happy father’s quip and not one that gets to the heart of the drought crisis.
3.1 Have you ever thought seriously about who or what brings the rain and droughts?
I consider many Aussies are ignorant of the fact that Mother Nature can do absolutely nothing to bring or take away the rain. The Christian Scriptures make it abundantly clear who sends the rain and withholds it:
“He [God] sends showers on earth and waters the fields” (Job 5:10 CEV).
There is no Mother Nature or “lucky to get the rain” in this explanation. The word for God in Job 5:10 is El = Almighty God. Do you understand the vast difference between an Australian’s explanation of the generator of rain and the true creation of rain? How long will it take for us to acknowledge that God sends the rain and do what Job did to restore his misfortune. Read about it in Job 42:7-17 (ERV).
Job 14:10 (ERV) is a summary of God’s answer when Job prayed, not to Mother Nature, but to Almighty God: “Job prayed for his friends, and the Lord made Job successful again. The Lord gave him twice as much as he had before.”
There are profound lessons here for those in Australia who are losing many things through drought. Job lost everything: Job 1:13-22. Imagine having a wife like this: “His wife said to him, ‘Are you still holding on to your faith? Why don’t you just curse God and die!’” (2:9)
“Then you will be acting like your Father in heaven. He makes the sun rise on both good and bad people. And he sends rain for the ones who do right and for the ones who do wrong” (Matthew 5:45 CEV).
It doesn’t matter whether you are a Christian believer, disinterested person or an atheist; you need to understand the facts. The media and politicians admit it:
“We can’t make it rain” (Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull).
“This Plan cannot make it rain; no plan can,” (Australian Government Plan for Drought response, resilience and preparedness)
Margaret Kowald & W Ross Johnston wrote a book about the North Australian Pastoral Company, which is one of Australia’s largest and oldest private cattle companies and is located in the Northern Territory. The book is titled appropriately,
By Boolarong Press Pty Ltd ABN 60 009 754 929
So, what should we do when God is withholding the rain and there is drought? God provides the instruction: “Elijah was a person just like us. He prayed that it would not rain. And it did not rain on the land for three and a half years! Then Elijah prayed that it would rain. And the rain came down from the sky, and the land grew crops again” (James 5:17-18 ERV).
The message is crystal clear: Pray intensely for God to end the drought. How many people in these drought-stricken areas are going to churches and houses (with social distancing) and crying out to God in prayer for Him to break the drought. You don’t have to go to a group gathering but it is an excellent place for encouraging support and giving encouragement.
Blaming Mother Nature for our situation is a farce – a lie – as no such personification sends the rain. The Almighty God is the only one who can break the drought.
Is this too Christian of a message? However, it is God’s truth about who breaks the drought by sending the rain in His season.
4. Who causes floods and droughts?
The Psalmist wrote:
Psalm 107:33-34 (ERV):
He changed rivers into a desert.
He stopped springs from flowing.
He made the fertile land become salty,
because the people living there did such evil things.
The Almighty God is the One who changes the weather, brings or stops the rain. We promote falsehood when we blame it on Mother Nature. As for the slogan, “We can’t make it rain”, that’s as stupid as saying green frogs should learn to fly.
Of course no person on earth can make it rain. However, it’s time for the mass and social media to be honest with who sends the rain. Is it too blunt to say, “The Almighty God” sends the rain and we desperately need to seek drought-breaking rain?
It’s probably better to acknowledge that there are too few people in the media, on the street, and politicians who serve and fear the Lord God.
We must not be embarrassed in Australia to talk about the Lord God’s sending the rain. After all, Australia’s Christian foundation is demonstrated each day when the President of the House reads a Christian prayer. Christian values brought to Australia by the First Fleet and enshrined in the Australian Constitution: ‘Humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God’.
The introduction (preamble) of the Australian Constitution reads:
An Act to constitute the Commonwealth of Australia
[9th July 1900]
WHEREAS the people of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, and Tasmania, humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God, have agreed to unite in one indissoluble Federal Commonwealth under the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and under the Constitution hereby established….
This introduction is part of the Act and demonstrates Australia is a nation built on a Christian foundation that seeks the blessing of the God Almighty (revealed in the Scriptures of Old and New Testaments).
Jeremiah the prophet warned Israel of the consequences of not serving God and seeking Him to send rain:
Jeremiah 14:22 (ERV):
Foreign idols don’t have the power to bring rain.
The sky does not have the power to send down showers of rain.
You, the Lord our God, are our only hope.
You are the one who made all these things.
What should we learn from this verse? No foreign god of any sort has the power to bring rain. We do know who sends the rain and it’s time for the media, politicians and ordinary folks to own up: “We do know that Almighty God sends the rain but we are not prepared to bow down to His laws.” Therefore, the more we pursue secular values, the more droughts, floods, and other disasters will come from the hand of God who showed what he could do with drought and floods.
He has done it on a much larger scale in years of the past – the worldwide flood that wiped out all people except 8 in Noah’s Day (Genesis 6-9) and the devastation of what happened at Sodom & Gomorrah (Genesis 18-19).
Let’s apply this to Australia. It could be said of other nations also. Your idols of materialism, entertainment and false religion cannot send the rain and will prohibit you from focussing on the One who is responsible for the rain.
(image courtesy Dreamstime)
Mother Nature (the sky) does not have the power to send rain or end the drought. It’s fantasy to look to an image of something to bring rain. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, Mother Nature is “Nature personified as a creative and controlling force affecting the world and humans.” Synonyms for it include: “the natural world, the living world, creation, the world, the environment, the earth, Mother Earth, the universe, the cosmos, natural forces” (Oxford English Dictionary 2021. s.v. Mother Nature).
The Lord is the only One who can break the drought and bring rain. When that happens, the children will be rejoicing in the mud like this:
Archie Saunders experiences the largest rainfall of his life with his dad, Nick. Source: Facebook
Olivia Lambert, News Editor, Yahoo! Sports, 10 January 2020 wrote:
In a time of severe drought and disastrous bushfires, a NSW mum has found a drop of hope amid the devastating circumstances.
Nkala Frost, from Wollomombi in NSW’s New England region, for months has been confronted by bone dry dams and dust on the property where she lives with her family.
Not only have they been dealing with the extremities of the drought, but they were also forced to evacuate in November as a bushfire came within just eight kilometres of their home.
But on Thursday afternoon, Ms Frost and her family finally had a bit of respite, with the heaviest rainfall they’ve had in months drenching their usually withered surroundings.
See my other articles about Australia and disasters:
Australia is in deep trouble: Droughts, floods and fires
Get to the heart of the BIG drought, fires and floods
This deep-seated problem brings ruin to the outback and to the Australian nation
Pointing Towards a Solution
Connection between spiritual condition of the nation and disasters
Why does God allow floods to devastate Australia?
Please join me in telling the truth about who sends the rain.
 Phillip Portman, startsat60, “Drought-stricken farmers make emotional plea to PM in series of dramatic photos,” 20 September 2019. Available at: https://startsat60.com/media/news/politics/farmers-australia-drought-social-media-scott-morrison-where-are-you-the-west-is-waiting (Accessed 20 January 2021).
 Parliament of Australia. “Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act,” 9 July 1900. Available at: https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Senate/Powers_practice_n_procedures/Constitution/preamble (Accessed 20 January 2021).
 Yahoo! Sport, “’He wasn’t sure what to do’: Emotional moment dad and two-year-old revel in long-awaited rain.” Available at: https://au.sports.yahoo.com/australia-drought-nsw-mum-takes-photos-son-playing-rain-095146562.html (Accessed 20 January 2021).
Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 22 January 2021.