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Mayor lashes out at flood relief delays

Farmers are still waiting to here about Category C funding for the Clarence Valley.
Farmers are still waiting to here about Category C funding for the Clarence Valley.

STATE Government ministers holding up the delivery of category three disaster funding to Clarence Valley farmers have been told to "get their finger out".

An irate Clarence Valley Mayor, Richie Williamson, said he understood Federal Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus had given the go-ahead for the funding, but the State Government had not submitted the paperwork to put it into action.

"My understanding is the letter asking for the funding has to go from the State Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Mike Gallacher, to the Federal Attorney-General," Cr Williamson said.

"From what I've been told, the letter is still with the Emergency Services Minister and I think the Primary Industries Minister is involved as well."

Category 3 relief allows businesses or organisations in disaster-declared regions to claim up to $10,000, or $25,000 in extraordinary circumstances.

Cr Williamson said farmers dealing with four floods in five years were at the stage where they could not wait much longer for help.

"When he was here, I told Premier Barry O'Farrell we would need all the support we could get," he said.

"The hold-up is at a bureaucratic level and those bureaucrats need to get their finger out."

When they do, Cr Williamson predicts there will be some disappointment for people expecting relief.

"There is a clause in the category three guidelines that says if there's more than 51% of income comes from off-farm sources, they will be ineligible for some of the package," he said.

"While I can understand the rationale for this in a one-off application, we have a situation here where people are not recovering from one flood, but four in five years, and don't have far to go before they're down the tube.

"We have some exceptional circumstances here that should be taken into account so this relief can help get the rural sector back on its feet."

Cr Williamson said it was disappointing it appeared the ministers had delayed the progress of the category three declaration for another day.

"I didn't hear a thing from them today, so it appears nothing has progressed," he said.

The minister's department continues to keep The Daily Examiner in the dark.

For the second day in a row it has not commented on this situation or answered questions emailed to it.

Topics:  clarence valley, flood, funding, grafton



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