REGIONAL Services Minister Bridget McKenzie has been touring SA, inspecting some of the damage caused by drought conditions and meeting those living through it.
Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey, who showed Ms McKenzie about, said the visit was a good opportunity to speak with the people most impacted by the season.
“Minister McKenzie said she had not seen drift banks and roads as drifted over on this scale before and with her first-hand experience comes the understanding of the impost it places on farmers, whose responsibility it is to remove the soil,” Mr Ramsey said.
“It was this problem I used to highlight the severity of the drought with the Prime Minister, Agriculture Minister David Littleproud and Minister McKenzie and ask them to extend a similar Community Assistance package to SA as was introduced in the eastern states a few months ago.
“The result has been that 17 of the last 21 areas announced around Australia for the community packages are in SA with 13 of these in Grey.
“I thank the ministers and particularly Bridget, for their response. Each council will receive up to $1m for eligible projects.
“The Minister has made it clear this funding is not directed at farmers, there are other streams of support in place in that area already.
“However, this pool of money is for councils to develop programs to stimulate the local economy and help local businesses to keep open their doors and retain employees until the rains return.”
Mr Ramsey said Ms McKenzie would be re-assessing the program monthly as more data becomes available and councils currently not meeting the criteria may be included at a later date.
“The formula used by the department is the same as has been used in other states and is based on rainfall deficiency and percentage of people whose income is derived from agriculture,” he said.
“I took the minister to the Cowell/Arno Bay area as an example of what we are dealing with in a number of places throughout the electorate and she is well aware of similar conditions in numerous sites.
“Later in the day we met with a number of representatives from the northern pastoral zone and discussed their most immediate problems.”