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Drought declaration process absurd: Ingram

East Gippsland and Wellington Shires are victims of a new process declaring municipalities as "drought affected" according to the Member for Gippsland East, Craig Ingram.

By East Gippland - 8th April 2003 - Back to News

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East Gippsland and Wellington Shires are victims of a new process declaring municipalities as "drought affected" according to the Member for Gippsland East, Craig Ingram.

"Introduced in September last year, the process of declaring municipalities as ‘drought affected’ is triggered exclusively by rainfall records compiled by the Bureau of Meteorology," Mr Ingram said.

"There is no mechanism for any other factor to be taken into account or for any group of people or Local Government to plead a case for ‘special circumstances."

"It will come as a surprise to many East Gippsland and Wellington Shire farmers that no part of either Shire qualifies as drought affected.

"The absurdity of the current system is that, if any part of a municipality meets the criterion, the whole municipality is declared.

"I am quite sure that many farmers in East Gippsland have held back from calling for drought relief because of the devastation caused by the fires because they recognise that those farmers who lost hay and pastures, as well as stock and farm assets, are much worse off.

"The added demand for fodder of all kinds has placed all farmers in the region under greater strain.

The Premier is on record as saying that the severity of the bushfires was caused by the worst drought on record, but the region has not been declared drought affected.

"If the fires on top of the worst drought on record do not constitute exceptional circumstances, it is hard to envisage what does.

"The absurdity of the methodology is that even if farmers in East Gippsland or Wellington Shires can prove that they are affected by abnormal climatic conditions, they are not given the opportunity because there does not happen to be an official Bureau of Meteorology rain gauge in the vicinity of every farm.

"Rainfall is not the only factor in a drought – it depends when it falls and whether it is steady soaking rain or a deluge, the bulk of which runs off.

"It can also depend on other factors, such as wind, in the days following rain.

"Every applicant still has to justify an application for assistance and it is a pointless exercise to first expect that some computer somewhere has an accurate record of the rainfall on every property in the region.

"This ridiculous scheme should be scrapped in favour of a system that allows anyone affected by "exceptional circumstances’ to seek government assistances.

"The qualifications are established by cases that are currently approved and anyone who has similar needs should be given the same opportunity to state a case," Mr Ingram concluded.

 


Source: http://gippsland.com/

Published by: news@gippsland.com



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