Drought affected communities will soon see relief flowing in the form of $1 million in grants to local government areas to help stimulate regional and rural economies.
The Drought Communities Programme extension grant hub recently opened and drought-impacted councils have already begun submitting their applications.
Nearly one third of eligible councils have started the process since the guidelines were released on 28 September, according to the Minister for Regional Services, Sport, Local Government and Decentralisation Senator Bridget McKenzie who was joined by Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Blayney.
“This is a practical step that gets money flowing into these communities right now and I’m thrilled that it’s been take up so quickly by local councils,” the Prime Minister said.
“This funding will be used to construct new buildings, road upgrades, amenities upgrades and water infrastructure projects.”
Money will start flowing from the 11th of October, and Minister McKenzie urged all eligible councils to engage with the Department of Infrastructure and get their applications submitted.
“Based on feedback, the updated guidelines are even more flexible, giving local governments more choice when it comes to how they will deploy their funding,” Minister McKenzie said.
Each eligible council can receive a grant of up to $1 million to fund one or more project. A total of 60 local councils around Australia have been notified they are eligible to apply for funding under the extended programme.
More information is available at: business.gov.au.
The Government also announced that it would come together with the National Farmers Federation and banks through a new Drought Finance Taskforce designed to leverage resources and share insights on ways in which the Government and banks could further support drought-affected farmers and rural and regional small businesses.
The taskforce will include the Treasurer who will serve as chair, the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources who will serve as deputy chair, drought special envoy Barnaby Joyce, regional Queensland Member of Parliament John McVeigh, a senior representative from the National Farmers Federation (NFF) and a senior representative from ANZ, the Commonwealth Bank, the National Australia Bank, Rabobank and Westpac.
The Drought Finance Taskforce will:
- leverage government, business and industry resources in rural and regional communities to further determine the impact that the drought has had or is having on farmers and local small businesses;
- establish mechanisms to share insights in a timely manner; and
- advise the Government, bank CEOs and the NFF on drought impacts as well as further measures that could help alleviate the impact on farmers and local small businesses.
The establishment of the taskforce follows the drought roundtable held by the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources in early July at which banks and farm groups discussed financial literacy issues and farm management deposits.