Commonwealth drought assistance boosted

The Commonwealth Government has announced 13 more local government areas will be eligible to apply for the Drought Community Program in a new round of $100m funding to help communities.

The money includes $33m to resume the Drought Community Support Initiative in which farming households can apply for up to $3,000, and $740,000 for five Rural Financial Counselling Service providers.

“Thirteen Local Government Areas will be provided up to $1 million for local infrastructure and drought relief products,” Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his government had to “get more cash into these communities and cut more red tape, making it easier to access support”.

ALGA President, David O’Loughlin, this week wrote to Federal Drought Minister, David Littleproud, explaining the urgent need for assistance to help community resilience amid the drought.

“The ability of many rural communities to recover is being questioned, particularly as populations decline as a result of business closures and loss of farm-based employment,” the ALGA letter said.

“The flow-on affects result in further business losses and a reduction in services available in town.  Some small towns no longer have a service station or a supermarket.”

Some 110 councils were eligible for the Drought Community Program extension funding and others not currently eligible could not wait until July 2020 to learn if they could receive Future Drought Fund money, Mr O’Loughlin wrote.

Further details of federal drought and rural support is available here.