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Mayor meets Minister on drought in Orbost

Friday 22 February

East Gippsland Shire Council Mayor Cr Natalie O’Connell his afternoon impressed on Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes the need for the Victorian Government to step in and provide council rate relief assistance for local drought-affected farmers.


“Rate relief and transport subsidies for fodder and water have been the key consistent items raised by farmers,” Cr O’Connell said.


Just under $5 million would be required in East Gippsland for rate relief, with an average $2000 per notice. Some single farming enterprises have multiple properties.


“Unfortunately, Council cannot carry this debt on our own without some form of impact or service reduction. I strongly highlighted this to the Agriculture Minister in Orbost this afternoon,” Cr O’Connell said.


“The Victorian Government’s announcement today of support payments to farmers of $2,500 or $3,500 (young farmers under 35 years) is welcomed, assistance to provide some form of rate relief to ratepayers – be it a specific one-off payment or assistance for us to defer payments without interest penalties – would have been of more value to our farmers.


“Although the rate relief guarantee was missing from the Minister’s visit today, but we will be following up with written correspondence expressing the importance of this as impressed on us by the sector.


“Rate relief is what our primary producers are saying will provide the most benefit. It would provide some budgeting certainty in one aspect of their enterprises where there are currently extreme variables such as commodity prices, sourcing and paying for fodder, stocking numbers and irrigation water availability to name a few.


“I impressed on the Minister our willingness to continue working through this with her and she has agreed to keep regular lines of direct communication open between us both.


“The drought impact is bigger than the East Gippsland Shire Council, and requires all levels of government working together to provide assistance where it matters most,” Cr O’Connell concluded.



Mayor and Ag Minister (2).jpg

 East Gippsland Shire Council Mayor Cr Natalie O’Connell welcomed Minister for Agriculture Jaclyn Symes to a sunny, but unfortunately not rainy, Orbost on Friday afternoon to discuss the impacts of drought and the importance of Victorian Government rate relief. 



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