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Flood-hit South Burnett farmers 'can't afford' repairs

By Sam Burgess and Alyse Edwards, Thursday April 4, 2013 - 13:23 EDT

A charity helping flood victims in Queensland's South Burnett region says some farmers have run out of money and cannot do basic repairs to their properties.

Blaze Aid has set up a number of camps in the region to fix the damage caused by floods in January and March.

Murgon camp coordinator Alison Mortensen says farmers are struggling to maintain their own properties.

"Some farmers financially can't afford to replace fences so we've been mending wires, which is not always a good idea, but after having floods two years ago and then this happening again, financially they just can't afford to," she said.

"They've just lost their income with the floods and they've got no reserves to buy equipment with."

She says volunteers and property owners are making slow progress.

"It's just still very wet, so they can't even get down to some parts of their properties," she said.

"It's still an unknown situation there but out of our 90 farms we have managed to finish 10 of them, those farmers are quite happy but there's still a lot of work to be done on all the others."

Ratepayers relief

Meanwhile, the Monto Ratepayers Association (MRA) says a six-month extension on rate payments is a welcome break for flood affected residents in the North Burnett.

MRA president Lex Dow says families and businesses are under severe financial strain after January's floods wiped out many livelihoods.

However, he says people could still struggle to make the payments in September.

"They've only postponed the inevitable - they're still going to have to pay their rates but it's just given them a little bit more time to do it," he said.

"That can only be helpful because they need all the time that they can get to get back on their feet, mainly the farmers and the cropping people.

"The dairy people, the lucernes growers - it will be at least 12 months before they've got any productivity going again.

"It's only people who were not affected by floods that will miss out [on the rates freeze] so I think they should be grateful that they have missed out.

He says he is "more sympathetic towards the council".

"The council has been devastated by this flood also, so we've got to recognise that the council needs assistance as well," he said.

"They can only do so much in alleviating this rates burden."


© ABC 2013

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