News

Support for drought-impacted communities

By Country News

Rural and regional communities will receive drought assistance from the Federal Government package worth nearly $100million.

NSW's Senator Perin Davey said a further $13million would be available to support 13 local councils in drought-affected communities to deliver infrastructure and drought-relief projects.

“I’ve seen first-hand how councils are using these funds to stimulate their economies, engaging local businesses and providing long-lasting benefits to their communities.”

Moyne Shire Council's Mayor Mick Wolfe has formally rejected the $1million grant, saying his isn't a drought-stricken area and that the money should go to an area with greater need."The inclusion of Moyne Shire’s eligibility for $1million in grant funding came as a surprise, as neither council nor local member Dan Tehan MP have previously asked for drought-relief funding for Moyne Shire,” Cr Wolfe said.

In response, Water Resources Minister David Littleproud has requested a forensic audit of Bureau of Meteorology data, where eligibility for funding is determined through drought mapping.

“We do not believe Moyne Shire is experiencing drought conditions and so we are pleased that the minister has ordered an audit to be carried out on information used to inform this decision,” Mr Wolfe said.

There has been suspicion that Moyne Shire, located in Victoria's south-west, was confused with Moira Shire, in the north-east.Moira Shire Mayor Libro Mustica said funding needed to “come this way as struggling farmers are in desperate need of some kind of assistance”.

“The Drought Community Program funding would make an enormous amount of difference,” he said.

Senator Davey said the Drought Community Support Initiative would provide $33.4million for eligible households.“Farming households can receive up to $3000 to spend in their local communities to cover urgent bills such as food, petrol and utilities, taking stress off families and boosting the local economy,” Senator Davey said.

The Farm Household Allowance will be altered to have a simplified application process, as well as a $740000 boost to the Rural Financial Counselling Service.

“I urge any farmer who is finding it tough to talk to a rural financial counsellor, because they can help,” Senator Davey said.

For further information on drought assistance, visit the Department of Agriculture's website at www.agriculture.gov.au or phone 1800 900 090.