THE STAWELL TIMES-NEWS: Government must support farmers
Tuesday, 6 November 2012
The heat has been turned up once again on the Federal Government to provide much needed financial support to flood affected farmers in the Joel South region.
Nationals Senator for Victoria, Bridget McKenzie, has echoed previous calls for support from politicians at both state and federal level and has condemned the Gillard Government for failing to respond to questions on natural disaster flood assistance funding in the Senate last week.
"The motion passed in the Senate on Tuesday recognised the Attorney-General had failed to answer legitimate questions regarding their treatment of Category C funding applicants from Victoria," Senator McKenzie said.
"When questioned in the Senate, the Government did not provide an explanation as to why communities like Joel Joel were unable to receive $25,000 in vital clean up and recovery funds.
"I'm advised more than 80 primary producers around Joel Joel were affected by the 2011 floods, which caused an estimated $3.7 million in damage and saw 1,500 head of sheep drown.
"The Victorian Coalition Government stands ready to deliver their 50 per cent contribution to Category C national disaster relief and has made numerous representations.
"But the Attorney-General seems content with letting flood-affected communities in regional Victoria pay the price to achieve a wafer-thin budget surplus."
Category C grants from The National Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements Program are made available to small businesses, farms and not-for-profit organisations to assist in the recovery from flood events.
Only four of dozens of local government areas have received such funding - Indigo, Moira, Towong and Greater Shepparton.
Local government areas across central, eastern, north-eastern and western Victoria are still waiting.
“The Victorian Coalition Government has been consistent in its advocacy and provided the Gillard government with the necessary information to facilitate this process, yet the need for access to full funding remains across much of the state. It’s simply not good enough,” Senator McKenzie said.
The December floods caused widespread damage to farms in the Joel South area. Boundary fences were destroyed and stock killed as a storm dumped up to 125 millimetres of rain in a 90-minute period.
Many of the farmers are facing damage bills in excess of $200,000 and would welcome the assistance of up to $25,000.