Seeking drought support
Mayor Pat Bourke raised the subject at council’s monthly meeting on September 18. His Mayoral Minute motion for council staff to prepare an application and support neighbouring councils, as well as seeking regional RAMJO support, was unanimously agreed to by fellow councillors.
Mayor Bourke told councillors Federation Council and surrounding councils are not on the list of 35 NSW and Queensland councils to be eligible for up to $1 million each in drought support funding to support their communities.
After making contact with local Federal Member for Farrer’s office, he said council is encouraged to seek funding assistance.
“With the entire state drought-declared, and no signs of improvement over summer, the north and north-west areas particularly of the council area have mostly zero chance of harvest this year, with many farmers having little or no stock to attempt to offset this loss,” Mayor Bourke said.
“Those who do have some stock are obviously faced with the massive fodder gap also.”
Cr Bronwyn Thomas said the subject was “such an important issue” because of the rainfall deficiency and blackfrost.
“I recommended we put forward a Discussion Paper to our regional joint organization with some really strong strategies,” she said.
Cr Thomas said she would like to be involved in the Discussion Paper’s preparation which was well received by fellow councillors.
Cr Fred Longmire, who supported Cr Thomas’s comments, recommended council seriously consider what can be done for the farmland ratepayers in council’s 2019/20 budget, bearing in mind today’s drought situation and the significant rise in farmland rates last year.
The mayor asked: “Should we seek to have a Natural Disaster Declaration?” “Yes,” responded Longmire. “And in the next rate review let’s look at what benefit can be done for farmers with our rate review.”
The drought effect on farms in the north of Federation Council has also been seen by Cr Paul Miegel. He said he has seen the drought effect in other areas of Australia too which have captured so much media attention and for which fundraising has occurred.
“I’ve seen their significant hardship. It’s a real difficulty our agriculture industry is facing,” he said. “Australia is doing it tough. Now we are really doing it tough here.”
Federation Council will apply to be included in the Federal Government drought supports program and seek a Natural Disaster Declaration.