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Drought support extended to March 2009

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The Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP Shadow Minister for Environment, Heritage and the Arts Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs Federal Liberal Member for Murray

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Media Enquiries: Robert Hardie 02 6277 4477 / 0418 432 909

Drought support extended to March 2009

Federal Agriculture Minister Tony Burke has accepted the advice of the National Rural Advisory Council extending the Exceptional Circumstances (EC) assistance to 31 March 2009 across Northern Victoria, Federal Member for Murray, Dr Sharman Stone, said.

“All of the EC support across declared areas in the Murray Electorate were due to cease in about six weeks time. Minister Burke has announced that only two areas in Victoria, Central and East Gippsland would not be extended, but would be eligible for transitional income support.

“Unfortunately the Minister had very few options in making a decision to extend EC assistance as irrigators start the season off with zero allocation, and despite the recent rains we still face a tough time,” Dr Stone said.

“There has been much confusion with the federal Department of Agriculture not aware of the Ministers announcement and the Drought Assistance Hotline claiming no knowledge of the new extensions.

“In typical Rudd Labor Government style, Tony Burke the Minister has advised the press but has failed to ensure that the people at the coal face, who are responding to drought stressed farmers and small business operators on a day to day basis, are provided with the latest and current advice.

“However, despite the bureaucrats being outside the loop, it is official, EC is extended across the Shires of Moira, Campaspe, Loddon and CoGS.

“People already receiving assistance do not need to re-apply for their household support via Centrelink or for Interest Rate Subsidies. However, if you haven’t applied, it’s not too late. Remember small business can also apply,” Dr Stone said