While Federal funding for drought impacted regions will be welcomed by eligible local governments, The Nationals WA are concerned the Southern Rangelands will miss out on much-needed assistance.
It was announced today 35 local governments in WA were now eligible for funding assistance of up to $1 million through the Drought Communities Programme.
“The Nationals WA lobbied federal colleagues to extend this important funding scheme to WA – hosting a visit by the Minister for Drought and Water Resources to the drought-impacted regions last year,” Ms Davies said.
“We are deeply concerned communities in the Southern Rangelands are not included in the list of eligible funding recipients.”
The Southern Rangelands has suffered both droughts and, more recently, flooding – with Cyclone Blake estimated to have caused millions of dollars of damage to roads and infrastructure in recent weeks.
“We share the disappointment many pastoralists and local governments will be feeling,” Ms Davies said. “We have immediately raised this matter with the Federal Government and will continue to advocate on behalf of the Southern Rangelands.”
During the Federal Minister’s visit to WA last year, The Nationals WA called for the criteria for drought assistance eligibility to be reviewed – as the existing system disadvantaged local governments in mining and pastoral areas.
“While I understand the Federal Minister revised the criteria to make the program fairer and to ensure WA communities are eligible, Southern Rangelands is still missing out,” Ms Davies said.
Ms Davies said the State Labor Government also needed to do more to help those suffering in drought.
“A recent review by the Commonwealth showed while other States have stumped up millions of dollars for drought assistance, the WA Labor Government’s contribution has been paltry,” Ms Davies said.
“Just $25,000 has been committed to support the recent Farmers Without Borders hay run, and that only came after sustained pressure from the community and The Nationals WA.
“When The Nationals were in Government we delivered the Farm Water Rebate Scheme and the Pastoral Water Grants Scheme to help improve water security and self-sufficiency on stations and farms, and in regional communities.
“This funding was scrapped by the Labor Government, leaving many battling increased water charges and significant up-front capital costs to build their own water saving infrastructure.”
Ms Davies praised the work of North West Central MP Vince Catania in putting forward a funding case for the Southern Rangelands to the Federal Government.
“Mr Catania has worked tirelessly to highlight the plight of pastoralists and communities in his electorate, and he was instrumental in securing a visit from the Federal Minister for Drought and Water Resources to the Southern Rangelands last year,” Ms Davies said.