Moira Shire missed out on drought funding

By Geoff Adams

Moira Shire has missed out on $1 million in federal funding because of a 0.1 per cent shortfall in workers with farming-related jobs.

Moira Shire didn't receive the cash because 16.9 per cent of its residents were employed through farming, rather than the 17 per cent threshold.

But Moyne Shire, which rejected the $1 million grant, was eligible, despite healthy spring rain fuelling lush paddocks in the southwest Victorian council.

Another 14 shires were not tested against the criteria, which were selected for the program during the election campaign earlier in the year.

Labor senator Murray Watt used a Senate estimates hearing in Canberra on Monday to pursue the issue.

"What do we say to poor old Moira Shire who misses out because even though they're drought affected, they miss out because 16.9 per cent of their population are employed in agriculture rather than 17?" he asked."But we've got 14 other councils who we wouldn't know if they meet the criteria. How do we justify that?"Infrastructure department bureaucrats told the committee Moyne council qualified because half of the shire received a one-in-20 year rainfall deficiency over one of a two-year period.It also had at least 17 per cent of the shire employed in agriculture, forestry and fisheries, meeting the grant's other threshold.But Moira was slightly under that mark and miss out on the money.