Farmers deserve funding 

JOEL JOEL - Nationals Member for Western Victoria David O'Brien has again called on the federal government to accept the Victorian government's application for Category C payments of up to $25,000 for Joel Joel district farmers.

Mr O'Brien has echoed comments made by Deputy Premier Peter Ryan in state parliament last week that many Victorian farmers are still waiting for federal government flood aid.

"Farmers within the Northern Grampians Shire are still waiting despite the fact that the Victorian Coalition has done all it can to have the Category C payments granted," Mr O'Brien said.

"The Coalition has made a commitment to meet our 50 per cent share of the outlay that would be incurred as a result of those grants being made available to farmers and individuals," he said.

The December floods caused widespread damage to farms in the Joel South area. Boundary fences were destroyed and stock killed as a storm dumped  up to 125 millimetres of rain in a 90-minute period.

The subsequent flash flooding was responsible for destroying or damaging hundreds of kilometres of fencing and killing the livestock, particularly sheep.

At least 60 properties in the area were affected.

Northern Grampians Shire Council has worked hard with the State Government in lobbying for Category C funding to be approved for the affected farmers, by the Federal Labor Government.

Mr O'Brien said Mr Ryan had met with the federal Attorney General Nicola Roxon two months ago and there had still been no formal response from her office in relation to the Category C grants.

This also follows several calls by council for the funding to be approved, but the lack of response has caused frustration.

Council was previously made aware in June this year that an initial application for the Category C funding under the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery

Arrangements (NDRRA) had been rejected by the federal government. The government had advised the application 'does not satisfy the thresholds for Category C support'.

Many of the farmers are facing damage bills in excess of $200,000 and would welcome the assistance of up to $25,000.

"The importance of these grants cannot be overstated and the financial support of up to $25,000 is vitally important to enable farmers to clean up and assist their recovery process," Mr O'Brien said.

"The money is vital, for individuals and both small and large farm businesses.

"Farmers have told me the flood event undid years of Landcare work, caused considerable damage to fencing and dumped silt on previously productive land."

Mr O'Brien said there has been no formal response to the unsuccessful applications to date.

"We have provided the information again and again to the federal government but, for whatever reason, we have not been able to have these applications granted regardless of the fact that they are of great significance to the people who are directly affected," Mr O'Brien said.

"Joel Joel farmers are desperate to receive news of the funding and we again call on the federal government and the Attorney General to ensure a declaration is made, to make the funding available immediately," he said.

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