Fourteen Queensland councils have received $1.5 million under the federal Drought Communities Program.
The Drought Communities Programme (DCP) is designed to deliver benefits in targeted drought affected regions of Australia. The Australian Government is providing $35 million over four years, commencing in 2015-16, to fund local infrastructure initiatives that provide employment for people whose work opportunities have been impacted by drought.
Funding will be targeted at projects that stimulate local community spending, use local resources, businesses and suppliers, and/or provide a long-lasting benefit to communities and the agricultural industries on which they depend. Funding will be directed to declared local government areas.
Declared Councils that can receive funding under the DCP are those specified by the Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development in consultation with the Minister for Agriculture.
In 2015-16 priority funding will initially focus on the following Councils: Balonne, Barcaldine, Barcoo, Blackall Tambo, Bulloo, Burke, Diamantina, Flinders, Longreach, McKinlay, Murweh, Paroo, Richmond and Winton in Queensland and Brewarrina, Coonamble and Walgett in New South Wales
Shire CEO Chris Cowley said the money, to be used for roads projects, could not have come at a better time.
“These funds have come at an absolutely critical time for our community,” he said.
“Obviously with the extended drought, our farmers are doing it particularly tough but then there’s the flow-on to the business sector and also our contracting community, so these funds in council’s mind will provide valuable work which will have a multiplier effect as it gets spent through our community.”
He said the funding would go to roads projects, keeping the contractors employed for an otherwise difficult six months.
“The beauty of that is that this is 40 direct jobs,” he said.
“Each of the businesses that are performing the work will have their own support staff and ancillary services.
“Most of this money will be reinvested back into our local communities, into our local shops and businesses, which is a fantastic outcome.”