Anne Webster, Member for Mallee welcomed the extension of the On-farm Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate scheme to Victoria, but expressed disappointment in the State Government's decision to not include the North West of Victoria and the seat of Mallee.
"It has taken the Victorian Government 11 months to sign on to this program, and now they have decided to leave out Mallee," Dr Webster said.
"The Commonwealth Government is ready and willing to extend this scheme to all of Victoria, but the State Government has cherry picked certain regions for eligibility."
$100 million has been committed nationally to help farmers to drill new bores, desilt dams and install pipes, pumps, troughs, and tanks. With the Australian Government committing a further $50 million to farmers nationally under the extended On-farm Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate Scheme.
The extended scheme uses a 50:50 cost sharing arrangement between the states and territories and the Australian Government.
"It is really disappointing that only the East Gippsland and Wellington regions will be eligible at this stage," Dr Webster said.
"I am asking the Victorian government to review eligibility criteria for other regions, including Mallee."
Victorian farmers have already benefited from funding of $3.56 million in the initial scheme with a further $1.7 million available under the scheme extension, through the combined contributions of the Australian and Victorian governments.
"Mallee farmers are still recovering from drought. The Victorian Government needs to show its commitment to agriculture and expand the scheme and support farmers who need assistance to install water infrastructure to increase resilience for the next drought."
"Victoria isn't only confined to Melbourne and it's about time the Victorian Labor Government started funding programs like this in Mallee which increase our farmers' resilience to the impacts of drought."
Not only does the scheme benefit drought affected farmers, but it also supports local communities and their economies by creating jobs and supporting small businesses.
The maximum rebate amount is 25% of eligible costs up to a maximum of $25,000.
"The Victorian government is responsible for setting eligibility to the scheme" Dr Webster said.
"They need to explain their disappointing decision to Mallee farmers. The Commonwealth government is ready to expand this scheme to all of Victoria.
"Money is on the table, but the Victorian government needs to step up and match our funding and expand the scheme to include farmers across Mallee.
"They deserve to benefit from the extension of this scheme and I look forward to a better outcome for them.'