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Moira Shire finally gets drought-relief grant from the Federal Government

Warwick Long, Tuesday January 28, 2020 - 17:30 EDT
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After months of on-again off-again signals about a drought grant, the Moira Shire has finally been successful. - ABC

It has taken months but the small regional shire that "wasn't agricultural enough" for a Federal Government grant has finally been approved for funding.

on the Drought Communities Programme (DCP) by 0.1 per cent, but a local MP said he had fixed the issue.

However this was later determined to be not the case.

Now, some months later, the shire has been informed of its success.

"It's wonderful," said Mayor Libro Mustica, who has been trying to stay positive despite the saga hanging over the shire for three months.

"I'll be the first to tell you 'it's not good enough', but at the end of the day I like to think positively that the money is here now and let's just go forward with it."

No more hits and misses

An October Senate Estimates revealed the shire did not qualify for the $1 million DCP grant because it had an agricultural employment rate of 16.9 per cent — not the required 17 per cent.

The local Nationals MP .

However this was not the case and the shire was again told which raised frustrations that the community had been left behind.

But today the Government reversed its decision and no one is more relieved than Mr Drum.

"It's a vindication for shooting my mouth off a bit too early a couple of months ago," he said.

"We were told that Moira was going to be included, however the Prime Minister's office was very keen to make sure that all of these councils could be justified being put in [to receive the grant].

"Because these [shires] were marginally outside the areas [of criteria] … we needed to put them through a review.

"It's a good result that we got to where we are today."

The DCP funding is available to eligible councils for local infrastructure projects and other drought-relief activities.

"Project funding is intended to provide short-term support, including by boosting local employment and procurement, and addressing social and community needs," the DCP website stated.

Mr Mustica said he was ready to spend the money but what the shire really needed was something the government could not provide.

"It's drought-relief funding and I'm thankful," he said.

"But what I'm hoping for more than anything else is more rain — more rain for everybody because that's the only thing that is going to help us."

Other farmers from the shire have been less forgiving of the delay.

"About bloody time — what a debacle," said Kristi Dalitz from Yalca.

Not the same as 'sports rorts': MP

The decision to change the shire's eligibility for the DCP grant has been linked with other "discretionary" Government decisions.

Mr Drum's colleague, Deputy Leader of the Nationals Bridget McKenzie, has been facing calls for her sacking over .

An Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) report into the $100 million sports grants scheme found "evidence of distribution bias in the award of grant funding".

The report .

Mr Drum said the decision to change the shire's eligibility, as well as the sports grant decisions, were a sign of what Australians wanted from Government.

"All Australians would like to think that they've got a Government that can make discretionary decisions — and that's what we have here," he said.

"It's what Bridget McKenzie also did.

"Some of those decisions have been criticised — some probably incorrectly and some correctly.

"We need to have belief in our politicians that they can make good decisions."


© ABC 2020

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