Council turns down on drought funds

Funds not needed: Moyne Shire mayor Mick Wolfe and councillors unanimously decided to not seek $1 million in Federal Government drought support funding, despite the Government confirming it was eligible for the support.

MOYNE Shire councillors have refused to seek Federal Government drought support funding, despite the Government’s announcement the council was eligible to apply for $1 million.

Federal Government representatives visited south east Queensland last week to announce close to $100 million in allocations to drought-affected communities across the country as part of the Drought Community Support program.

However, Moyne Shire councillors were confused to see Moyne Shire announced as eligible to seek $1 million as part of a $13 million extension to local governments.

Shire councillors met on Tuesday to discuss whether or not council should apply for the funding, but unanimously decided to not seek drought support.

Shire mayor Mick Wolfe said it would have been “morally irresponsible” to apply for the funding as the shire is not experiencing drought conditions like those seen in other parts of the state or the nation.

“As this program is for regional areas experiencing hardship through the effects of drought, Moyne was surprised to be included as a shire now eligible to apply for a grant of up to $1 million,” he said.

“While the Government has confirmed the data has been reviewed and Moyne is eligible, council urges the Federal Government to reallocate the $1 million to another shire in more need of drought relief.

“While some farmers are doing it tough in Moyne Shire, through factors such as increased grain prices and a shortage of local labour, the region is not experiencing the effects of drought like those in other parts of Australia.”

Calls for a review of the Federal Government’s data spurred on an audit of the Bureau of Meteorology’s rainfall figures and drought data.

However, the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development confirmed Moyne Shire was eligible.

Cr Wolfe said he hoped the $1 million could be used for drought support in an area experiencing hardship.

“That’s something for the Federal Government to consider, not us,” he said.

“Pass it on to somewhere that needs it.”

Mr Tehan welcomed the council’s decision and said the funds should support areas of the highest need.

“I’m fortunate to represent such a big-hearted electorate,” he said.

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