Yass Valley misses out again on federal drought funding

DRY TIMES: Federal Labor member Dr Mike Kelly has called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to explain what the latest drought announcement means for Yass Valley communities. Photo: FILE, generic

DRY TIMES: Federal Labor member Dr Mike Kelly has called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to explain what the latest drought announcement means for Yass Valley communities. Photo: FILE, generic

As the neighbouring councils of Hilltops and Upper Lachlan Shire celebrate the news they will receive $1 million in drought funding, the Yass Valley again waits in hope.

This is the second time the Yass Valley has missed out on the federal government's Drought Communities Program Extension.

Yass Valley mayor Rowena Abbey said it was "frustrating and a little disappointing" the region wasn't included.

"We are more drought-affected than the Upper Lachlan Shire, so it's difficult to understand. We have communities that could do with this funding," she said.

"We have been trying to ascertain the (funding) criteria. It seems to be at the discretion of the Department (of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development), as we understand it."

Funding criteria is based on Bureau of Meteorology rainfall data and requires that 17 per cent of employment in the local government area is linked to agriculture.

BOM's 19-month rainfall deficiencies map shows a 'severe deficiency' in Yass Valley.

The Department of Primary Industries' latest drought map also shows more land in Yass Valley under drought than in Upper Lachlan.

Agriculture, forestry and fishing account for 7.7 per cent (619 people) in Yass Valley and 25.8 per cent (908 people) in Upper Lachlan; however the population is 16,943 in Yass Valley and 7961 in Upper Lachlan, according to 2018 data by Demographic Resources.

In October, the Yass Tribune found Liberal or Nationals MPs held 12 of the 13 seats in council areas included in the last funding extension.

The Tribune now reports that Liberal or National MPs hold five of the six council areas included in the November 7 extension.

As well as Hilltops and Upper Lachlan, those council areas are Greater Hume, Kangaroo Island, Tatiara and Lockhart.

Federal Labor member Dr Mike Kelly has called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to explain what the latest drought announcement means for Yass Valley communities.

He said the government had robbed Yass Valley: "The government has again ignored our region with news that the Yass Valley still isn't on the list for drought assistance."

Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud's spokesperson said the decision-making had been an independent process.

A spokesperson for the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development also said the government was "constantly monitoring drought conditions across the country and will continue to review the DCP Extension and the eligibility of all councils."

However, Yass farmer Bill Mackaysaid the only thing that could help him and other farmers in the region was rain.

"What is [$1 million] going to do for us? $1m doesn't go far if you start splashing it about."

He said the council could reduce rates or help small businesses affected by less spending in regional areas.

NSW Farmers Yass branch chair Carolina Merriman said the successful councils should "let farmers decide the best ways to support them while taking into consideration the basic essentials of food for the family, fodder for livestock and livestock welfare."