DEAL­ING OUT DEATH ON A DAILY BA­SIS

Western Times - - FRONT PAGE - By AN­DREW MES­SEN­GER

PETER Clark signed up to be a farmer, not an ex­e­cu­tioner.

Nowa­days he gets up ev­ery morn­ing and shoots the roos that are bogged in his dried dam. It’s a mercy.

There are more than 140 corpses there now – corpses he doesn’t have the strength to pull out.

Drought is hard. De­stock­ing is harder.

Harder still is be­ing told it’s not a real drought.

You’d think it were ob­vi­ous: these peo­ple need help.

WHEN Cath and Paul Cur­ran heard the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment had not im­me­di­ately drought-de­clared Bar­coo Shire, they were dumb­founded.

“If it’s good enough for the state, why not good enough for the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment?” Cath asked.

The shires found out last month they had missed out on fed­eral drought fund­ing – even though they have been drought de­clared for years – be­cause the fed­eral gov­ern­ment doesn’t have up to date weather data. It means they are not el­i­gi­ble for mil­lions worth of as­sis­tance.

“If they’ve not got that data on rain­fall, then they need to in­vest in the shire and get data on rain­fall.”

Cath said the sit­u­a­tion was bad on their prop­erty.

“We have kan­ga­roos eat­ing (card­board) boxes.

“Some­times we bring our gro­ceries back in (card­board) boxes.

“There’s not much nutri­tion in that, but that’s the best they can do.

“It’s pretty or­di­nary here at the mo­ment.”

Bar­coo Shire Mayor Julie Groves said they were work­ing through the is­sue with lo­cal fed­eral mem­ber for Mara­noa Bruce Scott.

“I know the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment As­so­ci­a­tion of Queens­land has been fol­low­ing it up,” Mayor Groves said.

“They still haven’t re­ceived any no­ti­fi­ca­tion as well, we just have to wait and see.

“(We have to) wait for them to make the de­ci­sion.

“When you travel around and just see the sit­u­a­tion that these shires are in.

“It just seems to be a bit ridicu­lous.”

Mayor Groves said what was even more out­ra­geous was that gra­ziers in the area were el­i­gi­ble for drought as­sis­tance.

“As a gra­zier they’re el­i­gi­ble but as the coun­cil they’re not,” she said.

“There’s wa­ter in­fra­struc­ture fund­ing.”

Quilpie Shire Mayor Stu­art Macken­zie spoke out last week, call­ing the ex­ist­ing sys­tem “con­vo­luted”.

He told the ABC a state drought dec­la­ra­tion should have been enough.

“If that dec­la­ra­tion still stands now, which in most sit­u­a­tions still does, surely that is enough cri­te­ria to base these fund­ings on,” he said.

“If you look on the web­site which shires were drought de­clared in 2013 and still are, they are all the shires that are in that area that should re­ceive the sup­port.”

Cr Groves summed up the prob­lem.

“Why are there dif­fer­ent cri­te­ria be­tween State and Fed­eral gov­ern­ments?” she asked.

Last month the MP Bruce Scott said many re­mote ar­eas did not have Bureau of Me­te­o­rol­ogy of­fi­cial mon­i­tor­ing sta­tions and there­fore the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment did not have enough in­for­ma­tion about some ar­eas to ad­dress the fund­ing cri­te­ria.

LET us know what you think.

How is the drought af­fect­ing you and what should be done about it? Email us at ed­i­to­rial@west­ern­times.com.au.

PHOTO: EL­IZ­A­BETH CLARK

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