22 Regional and local Councils across drought affected Queensland will receive $1 million in cash funding for local projects as part of the Federal Government’s latest increase to drought funding.
The Council cash injections are part of an additional $250 million announced today taking the Federal drought relief funding commitment to $1.8 billion and includes a suite of measures.
In addition to the 22 Queensland councils to receive the cash grants, a further 38 Councils across Victoria and NSW are also in line for the immediate cash injection.
The Prime Minister says the funds are critical.
“This is really important, to get some more cash into these communities, to do long overdue work of the type the councils are always attending to.”
The funds are designed to allow local councils decide the projects that will best stimulate and therefore set the effects of drought on communities.
The guidelines for the funding, the Government says, will become more flexible, to target high-impact projects such as employing local contractors to upgrade or build new community facilities, undertake drought-relief activities and water carting.
The government also announced today that the cap for low interest confessional loans for farmers will be lifted from $1 million to $2 million.
The loans will be concessional, interest only for the first five years.
Farmers with existing Government loans will be able to refinance to take advantage of the changes made to the scheme.
Also announced today are moves to encourage farmers to build more storage infrastructure to store feed by allowing immediate tax deductions for the cost of such projects, instead of the current three-year deprecation deduction formula.
In other moves announced a $72m drought round of the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund will be issued to affected areas.
The Great Artesian Basin bore capping program gets a $23.7m boost and Farmer-specific weather and climate guides will be made more accurate with a $2.7m investment in the Bureau of Meteorology.
In addition, the Government has also appointed Major General Stephen Day to the position of National Drought Coordinator.
He is a retired senior member of the Australian Army and his key focus is said to be coordination-Engaging with governments, charities, donors and communities to maximise relief effects and identify gaps and risks in funding roll outs.
And the government has also responded to complaints about the difficulty of applying for an FHA, in its announcement today, committing to simplify the process, reduce paperwork and add more staff to man the phones.
Agricultural Minister David Littleproud says he’s encouraging farmers to speak with their local Drought Assistance Councillors to ensure a streamlining of applications.