Natural disaster funding a ‘con’
by Jim O’Toole Townsville bureau
The Federal Government’s aid package for grazing property owners is a terrible confidence trick still being played on survivors of the horrendous floods in North Western Queensland.
More than 600,000 head of cattle were estimated to have been lost in the February, 2019 deluge.
Prior to the federal election held on May 18, 2019 the government appointed former Northern Territory Chief Minister Shane Stone to sell their Clayton’s recovery package which involves a so-called $400,000 grant.
This week the Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority has placed advertisements in regional newspapers offering these grants of $400,000 for restocking lost livestock, replanting lost or damaged crops repairing or replacing damaged or lost on-farm infrastructure.
A meeting of affected landowners held in Winton in April was told the $400,000 federal grant was available to individual graziers who had matching funds.
In other words if a family farmer had $400,000 in his bank account, the grant was available.
It was pointed out at the meeting by a flood victim that the entire North Western region had been in a seven year drought before the ‘Great Flood’ event.
“How would any of us have $400,000 in the bank after feeding stock for so long?” the grazier asked.
Mr Stone was at great pains to explain the ‘grant’ was just that; no repayments were required provided there were matching funds.
The lasting legacy of the flood has already seen an exodus of generational farmers from the area with predictions of more to leave.
They are unable to continue on their properties, some held for more than 100 years, because they simply have given up hope.
The national cattle herd numbers are seriously depleted due to ongoing drought in all eastern states.
Suitable replacement cattle are not available for restocking.
Governments have deployed counsellors and financial advisors to the area trying to stem widespread bouts of personal depression and giving financial advice to stressed farmers in an effort to extract them from this economic maelstrom.
Robbie Katter incensed over Premier’s spending spree
The Member for Mount Isa, Rob Katter said he was incensed over the $80 million the Queensland Premier has spent in his marginal seat of Ashgrove, saying the money was earned in the resource centres of the State, such as Mount Isa.
“Mount Isa and Cloncurry in 2012-13 generated $213m in royalties and similar figures over other years. To have $80m of that prioritised for Ashgrove schools over projects such as the Mount Isa water or the Cloncurry Dam is an insult.
“This is perverse, taking money earned by the State’s producers and deliberately channelling it into the Premier’s own electorate,” Mr Katter said.
“Voters in Mount Isa should remember this when they come to vote; that the Premier has taken money meant for our schools, our roads, our water infrastructure, and used it to try and secure his own seat.”
Money spent in the Ashgrove electorate amounts to more than $2500 per voter, and includes a $5 million sports hall at The Gap State High School and $3 million on new classrooms for Ashgrove State School.
“Yet the Government couldn’t stump up the cash to keep the Gregory Downs School open in this electorate, and gave us a paltry $500,000 in Royalties to the Regions for our water treatment.
“That is no measure of a good government; that is simply trying to buy votes,” Mr Katter said.
“At the next election voters in the Mount Isa electorate need to look at the jobs lost, Royalties not returned to the regions, state assets lined up to be sold, laws rammed through with disregard to expert legal opinion, rural communities hung out to dry… and ask themselves, what kind of leadership is this?”
Mr Katter said he looked forward to mounting a vigorous campaign against both LNP and Labor in Mount Isa “to stop these major parties playing around with our hard-earned dollars”.
Dishonest newspaper column
This letter was sent in reply to slanderous letters sent to Kennedy electorate newspapers by the Liberal Member for Cook, David Kempton. It was also sent to Cairns News. Notably most of them are owned by either News Ltd or Fairfax. Notably they allow Liberal liars like Kempton to make false statements, but won’t print a reply. This is the normal modus operandi of these newspapers at election time especially this election where Rupert Murdoch has unashamedly backed Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party. We cannot blame him for helping to remove the disasterous Labor Party Government, but his editors must be fair and publish both sides of an issue. Particularly letters to the editor which are a reader’s only empowerment over the mass media.-editor
Re your correspondent the Liberal Member for Cook David Kempton.
Cook electorate takes in the northern end of the Atherton Tablelands, a large and suffering agricultural district.
Our State Member is like a phantom, rarely seen or heard of in his own electorate, but has found an urge to warn Mt Isa people against our Federal Member Bob Katter.
It seems Mr Kempton is still off in dreamtime because he forgot to tell your readers about the recent 900 per cent jump in Sunwater charges for irrigation and town water coupled with a 23 per cent hike in power costs, compliments of his party.
Or the State Government forced, dictatorial changes to Tableland Regional Councils planning scheme with highly inaccurate environmental, flood zone and other overlays, placed over freehold land rendering hundreds of rural and town properties almost valueless overnight.
Or his governments refusal to effectively tackle deadly disease-ridden bats which infest our yards, parks and orchards thus posing a great risk to human and animal health.
The only political opposition to these crippling policies we have heard is from Bob Katter, his state member for Dalrymple Shane Knuth and Mt Isa Member Robbie Katter. They are working hard to overturn these and other Brisbane-centric, devastating dictates which have driven local farming and other industries further into the ground since the state election.
In reality, it seems Mr Kempton is more worried about Katters awesome state electoral results and hanging onto his 2.5 percent marginal, retirement package seat of Cook.
Mr Kempton cannot be taken seriously.
From a Kennedy voter