Additional $300k allocated to rural residents
THE Federal Government allocated an additional $300,000 to the Southern Downs bushfire recovery fund, boosting the capacity of the proposed water tank rebate for rural residents.
Rural residents, reliant on water from bores and tanks, told The Daily News they felt like "second-class citizens" when they were excluded from the previous council rebate scheme.
Southern Downs Mayor Tracy Dobie said council has long searched for funding to help those unconnected to the reticulated water system through drought.
Council first applied for the rural resident rebate through the Federal Drought Communities Program last year but the scheme failed to meet eligibility requirements.
Their second attempt seeks to allocate $1,050,000 of the $1.3 million bushfire recovery fund to rural tank rebates.
Councillor Neil Meiklejohn said council was grateful for the additional support.
"This is something we've grappled with for a considerable time," he said.
"This will boost their capacity with consideration for the next drought, but it will also boost firefighting potential in rural areas."
The remaining $250,000 will go towards upgraded equipment for the Rural Fire Service, a disaster management plan and upgrades to rural town halls.
Councillor Cameron Gow defended councils decision to allocate bushfire funding for halls, stating they would be used as evacuation centres and control points for the rural fire service.
The rebate scheme, if approved, may be available within the next couple of weeks according to council CEO David Keenan.