Wellington Shire Council has allocated $1 million in its 2019/20 Budget for drought recovery.
This unprecedented step advances Council’s work with other tiers of government to deliver immediate assistance to drought-affected families including providing cartage of potable water; pump and water infrastructure upgrades; social events to provide ‘time off the farm’; information; support and advocacy to the State and Federal governments.
In addition, Council will continue its 20% discount on farming rates, which has been policy for more than 20 years; the freeze on fees at the Gippsland Regional Livestock Exchange and providing free roadside grazing permits.
Wellington Shire Council Acting Mayor Malcolm Hole said Council was tightening its belt recognition of the tough times our communities were facing.
“Our rural community has been telling us that financial relief is what they want, and while Wellington farmers have had some assistance from the State and Federal governments, rate relief hasn’t been forthcoming,” he said.
“Council will continue to lobby both state and federal governments to provide more direct financial assistance, but we also need to play our part.
“In addition, for 2019/20, we will continue to provide a 20% discount on farming general rates and have allocated a further $1 million to go towards drought response and recovery.”
Council is now working with its agricultural reference group and the broader farming community to work out how this could be spent to maximum effect.
“Unlike the state or federal governments, Council doesn’t have the ‘budget horsepower’ to provide any reasonable level of direct financial help,” Cr Hole said.
“For example, if we used our million dollars to provide further rate relief over and above the 20% discount already in place, this would equate to around $750 per farm enterprise for the year, a figure unlikely to be a significant factor.
“So, we will look to invest our million dollars into projects like water carting and bores and continue to lobby state and federal governments to come to the table with genuine and immediate financial assistance.”