The Queensland Government has donated $100,000 to the Bendigo Bank Appeal to help fire affected Gulf graziers.
Launching the appeal in Georgetown after visiting fire affected properties on Thursday, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry John McVeigh praised the community spirit in the Etheridge Shire where local people are working together to overcome the recent devastating bushfires.
Mr McVeigh launched the appeal with a $100,000 donation from the Newman Government and called on Queenslanders to support the appeal to help Gulf graziers buy fodder for their herds.
“The recent fires have caused damage to a number of beef properties in the Croydon and Etheridge Shire,” Mr McVeigh said.
“I acknowledge the generosity of many local businesses and agencies which have quickly mobilised to help fire-devastated producers, with the strong leadership of local Mayor Will Attwood.
“Everyone is doing their bit to help. I understand that the CWA has donated $20,000 and Wellards is helping out with discounted hay, while Whites Transport has agreed to transport it at a discount.
“Also contributing is Aussie Helpers which has donated 1,200 bales valued at $36,000, the Salvation Army has donated $50,000 cash, Stocklick Trading will make a significant discount on its supplements, and I am informed that the Catholic Church also intends to make donations.
“The Atherton Rotary Club has access to pasture suitable for baling and has donated the baling, cost of the hay and transport to burned out properties. The Club has also made cash donations directly to families devastated by the fires.
“This sort of community spirit and resilience is a great example of Queenslanders backing each other up and helping themselves in the face of hardship.”
Mr McVeigh said producers could apply for Individual Disaster Stricken Property (IDSP) support through the Queensland Rural Adjustment Authority (QRAA).
“An IDSP provides up to $5,000 in freight subsidy from DAFF and access to a $250,000 QRAA loan,” he said.
“We are aware of the extent of the fires and the department will be able to make assessments without the need for an inspection, accelerating the IDSP process.
Katter Australia Party member for Mount Isa Rob Katter said the Newman Government’s $100,000 donation to the Bendigo Bank appeal for fire-stricken stations in the Gulf was a good start, but the graziers needed more help than that.
“We have farmers who are spending $20,000 a week to buy and truck in feed for their animals, and all they’re being offered is a $5,000 grant if they had the time, energy and effort to fill in the necessary paperwork,” Mr Katter said.
“The other offer of a $250,000 Queensland Rural Adjustment Authority (QRAA) loan is just an offer of more debt to an industry that already carries a huge burden of debt.”
Mr Katter said if the area was declared a disaster, then the graziers would get more help.
“It is patently a disaster with about 750,000 ha burnt, 20 properties affected and seven stations almost completely burnt out.
“Station owners and workers are exhausted and it’s taking a huge emotional toll on them and their families.
“The Newman Government needs to show some compassion with real, pragmatic help for these graziers.
“Declare it a disaster area and give them some subsidies before it’s too late.”
Mr Katter said one grazier told him, “When we’re hit in the North we get nothing; it’s a massive process to go for a loan, and we’re looking for short-term relief with fodder for the cattle.”
Mr Katter said he was prepared to donate $1000 to the appeal, but he wanted more help for the graziers from the government.
Producers who’ve suffered substantial losses are urged to contact the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry on 13 25 23 about IDSP support.