Kangaroo Island will receive $1 million in drought assistance funding from the Federal Government.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Federal Government last week announced $1 million will go to new drought-affected councils and shires including Greater Hume, Hilltops, Lockhart and Upper Lachlan in NSW, and Kangaroo Island and Tatiara in South Australia.
An additional $1 million will also go to the 122 councils that had already received that amount, and the funding was part of a multi-million dollar announcement of extra drought initiatives.
Kangaroo Island mayor Michael Pengilly acknowledged that Kangaroo Island was not nearly as worse off as other areas in northern South Australia or the East Coast.
"We are living in a land aplenty and we've got more hay here than most places," he said. "It will be a decision for the council and we will need to look at the criteria but perhaps some of the funds could be used to transport hay up to the northern parts of SA and other drought affected areas."
Mr Pengilly said the council had not been formally notified of the funding and it would be up to the full council to decide how it would be spent.
He said this sort of funding was normally meant for infrastructure projects.
Federal Member welcomes funding
Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie said the Prime Minister's announcement of a $1 million funding injection for the Kangaroo Island Council as part of the Government's latest suite of drought-assistance measures will be a boost for farmers doing it tough on KI,
"Just how tough some KI farmers are finding it, especially on the eastern end of the Island after recent poor seasons, was brought home to me at the Kingscote Show last month when locals stopped to talk to me about their personal circumstances," Ms Sharkie said.
"It prompted me to investigate the Bureau of Meteorology rainfall percentile figures for the Island, and the rest of Mayo, and to write to the Minister for Water Resources and Drought David Littleproud to plead the case for our region.
"We've all seen the pictures of record-breaking drought conditions in the eastern states so it can be easy to overlook what is happening in our own backyard."
Ms Sharkie pointed to the decline in rainfall for Kangaroo Island
"However, when we look at the Bureau of Meteorology's (BoM) 33-month rainfall deficiency map between January 2017 and September 2019, it's quite clear that the greater majority of Kangaroo Island has been in 'serious deficiency' or 'severe deficiency'.
"The councils of Yankalilla, the Adelaide Hills, Mount Barker, Victor Harbor, Onkaparinga and the rural fringes of Mitcham are also experiencing 'serious deficiency' or 'severe deficiency' in rainfall over the past two years but the difference here, according to the Government's own criteria for awarding drought relief, is the percentage of residents employed in the agricultural sector.
"On the Island, 22.3 per cent of Kangaroo Island's residents are employed in agriculture, fisheries or forestry ('AFF') which is a reasonable margin above the 17 per cent threshold set by the Government.
"All of the other council areas in Mayo have agriculture employment rates at below the 17 per cent threshold.
"However, I would note that a number of local governments that have been granted access to the Drought Communities Programme are also under this employment threshold, which I believe to be appropriate given that farmers in more urbanised regions can, of course, still suffer greatly from drought conditions so I will continue to advocate for other parts of Mayo."
According to the information outlined by the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee during Senate Estimates, access to the Drought Communities Programme for local governments is predicated on a range of factors, including:
- Rainfall deficiency data that evidences at least 50 per cent of the local government area received at least 12 months of one in 20-year rainfall deficiency;
- At least 17 per cent of its community employed in agriculture, fisheries or forestry; and
- The overall economic impact of the drought in the region.