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Discussions continue over Gippsland drought support.



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The Hon. Tony Burke MP Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

Discussions continue over Gippsland drought support

19 September 2008 DAFF08/124B

The Federal Government has formally asked for advice from the independent National Rural Advisory Council (NRAC) on a possible extension of drought assistance for part of the Gippsland region.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Tony Burke said he had written to the NRAC following new information from the Victorian Government.

Exceptional Circumstances boundaries are based on data from state and territory governments, which is assessed by the NRAC.

Last month, the Federal Government announced it had accepted the NRAC’s advice that conditions in East and Central Gippsland regions had improved and drought assistance should not be extended beyond 30 September 2008.

Victorian Agriculture Minister Joe Helper has now written to Minister Burke, saying he supports the NRAC’s findings that recovery is underway for the majority of producers in the area.

However, Minister Helper said the Victorian Government would support a review of one revised area which has had “less opportunity to recover”.

“Some areas recover more slowly than others from drought and conditions are variable across parts of the country,” Mr Burke said.

“I recently met with NRAC chair Keith Perrett and he assured me that the Council would assess any proposed boundary changes as a matter of urgency.

“We have been advised that the Victorian Government is in discussions with the Victorian Farmers’ Federation and local communities about possible revised drought assistance boundaries.

“Once the NRAC receives proposed revised boundaries, it will provide advice to me and I will consider that advice urgently.”