Joint drought document presented to state

EAST Gippsland and Wellington shire councils have presented their joint ‘Gippsland Drought Response Proposal – Looking Ahead’, to the state government.

Representatives met with officers from Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes’ office, and Agriculture Victoria deputy secretary Emily Phillips on Thursday last week.

The joint advocacy document, adopted on May 7, details a plan between the two councils to the state and federal governments for drought assistance and recovery.

East Gippsland Shire mayor Natalie O’Connell said the document proposed a three-tier approach to more discussion with governments – transition, recovery and adaption.

“The discussion on Thursday was positive,” Cr O’Connell said.

“I thank Minister Symes’ office and Ms Phillips for their time and their willingness to work with us on supporting our communities now during the drought and into the future when the drought breaks and recovery starts.

“The minister and I have had regular contact over recent months and will continue to do so to ensure our communities have access to a full range of support to assist during the drought and in recovery.

“We are also actively promoting the range of support measures available, from all three tiers of government, through our website, and at events such as the recent East Gippsland Field Days.”

Wellington Shire deputy mayor Malcolm Hole said the meeting with the minister’s office was fruitful.

“Wellington Shire looks forward to continuing to work with the state government on drought response and recovery, acknowledging that the effects of the drought spread much further than just those farming the land,” Cr Hole said.

“Both councils will meet again soon with their advisory committees to assess the looming impact of winter and post drought recovery, and make recommendations to the minister for appropriate assistance.”

Ms Symes said she was pleased to be working with shires to help farmers manage and prepare for dry conditions.

“While we can’t make it rain, we can offer support and get out and listen to farmers, and that’s exactly what we are doing,” she said.

“As well as delivering our $45 million drought support package, we are continuing to work closely with stakeholders to see where any potential further support may be required, and how we can work together to keep building resilience in our rural farming communities.”