The Morrison Government’s so-called drought stimulus package is already cracking under National Party incompetence with Infrastructure Minister McCormack suggesting it’s fine for workers from outside drought-affected areas to be contracted to do the work, and Drought Minister Littleproud admitting his office is frantically calling councils to check eligibility.
It appears from the announcement that eligibility for many of the programs in the drought stimulus package hinges on a Local Government Area’s results against quarterly rainfall and employment data.
It is galling that the Morrison Government can claim it has spent months putting together this package, only for Minister Littleproud to admit that his office is personally calling around councils to check eligibility.
This follows news today that the Yorke Peninsula Council in South Australia is considering whether to forgo the money so it can be spent in on “more deserving” communities in other parts of the country, as “much of the region is not drought-affected”.
Worse still, the Deputy Prime Minister admitted he’d put no thought into the administration of these programs to ensure value for money for taxpayers and that more locals in drought-affected communities would pick up work.
This comes after the Auditor-General’s scathing report into the Morrison Government’s mismanagement of the Regional Jobs and Investment Packages, including that Ministers failed to verify claims around ongoing jobs created by each grant.
Minister McCormack also said that “this is the right help, right now”, but provided no evidence that a cent of new money would flow to drought-affected communities this week, let alone this year.
Labor has long offered to work with the Government in a bipartisan manner to support our farmers and rural communities who are suffering through this drought.
The lack of transparency, lack of oversight and lack of detail in today’s announcement is disappointing for all Australians, but particularly those in regional Australia.