TWO years after Greens Creek was devastated by floods, affected farmers are pleased they are finally eligible for disaster relief grants.
A deluge in 2011 destroyed livestock worth $264,000 and damaged farm fencing to the value of $2.8 million, hitting farmers in Northern Grampians Shire.
Neighbouring farmers were able to apply for category C disaster relief money from July, but because of a postcode anomaly, 14 Greens Creek farmers were deemed ineligible.
Federal Minister for Justice Michael Keenan and Victorian Deputy Premier Peter Ryan announced assistance for Greens Creek farmers on Tuesday.
Greens Creek farmer John Pollock described being denied assistance as incredibly frustrating.
“My farm was devastated,” he said.
“We were initially told there would be no grants, then we were told there would be, and after we did all the paperwork we found out we were not eligible because of the postcode,” he said.
“It was unfair that farmers further up the creek were eligible and we weren’t.”
Mr Pollock said farmers in Greens Creek copped the brunt of the flood in 2011.
He had to replace all his fences but had only been able to replace them temporarily.
He said the grant meant he could now replace them permanently.
Greens Creek farmer Graeme Stewart said the announcement was excellent.
“It was a ridiculous decision to make us ineligible,” he said. “It has been a pain and there have been a lot of phone calls – the government must have thought other things were more important.
“It was just a lack of commonsense.”
He said he could now repair fencing with the assistance.
“We lost about 30 kilometres of fencing – some has been repaired with financial support because it was in a different postcode,” he said.
“This will help us put up new fences and repair some others.
“This is a great decision by the government.”
After the 2011 floods, seven of the 110 farmers affected in Northern Grampians Shire received about $1000 each from the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements.
Northern Grampians Shire Council lobbied the State Government to ensure all farmers received assistance.
Chief executive Justine Linley said the announcement was a
welcome Christmas present for council and farmers.
“This was one thing we were consistently advocating for,” she said.
“Natural disasters don’t follow municipal or postal boundaries.”
Mrs Linley said council was frustrated after it lobbied for grants for farmers, only to find out Greens Creek farmers were ineligible.
“We kept persisting with it, even though it was just a handful of people, because we wanted to make sure they weren’t disadvantaged,” she said.
“This is why local government exists – to advocate for people who would otherwise be given a bureaucratic answer.”
She commended Member for Western Victoria David O’Brien for his support.
“He has been persistent since the floods in 2011 and he has been with us and our community every step of the way to get the best possible assistance we can,” she said.
“His dedication has paid off.”
Farmers have until March 31 to make claims for assistance.