It has taken eight long months for the Turnbull Government to address the plight of drought-affected communities in Queensland.
In May this year the Government announced it would make $35 million available to fund local infrastructure projects to stimulate economic activity in shires affected by drought.
It took only a month for a number of shires including Capricornia, Boulia and Quilpie to realise they did not meet the criteria but another seven months for the Government to finally admit the policy was flawed.
The extension of assistance under the Drought Communities Program to Capricornia, Boulia and Quilpie is welcome but the Mayors should not have been forced to beg and the damage done by the seven month delay will stay with the communities involved.
The Government's drought response has been appalling; concessional loans farmers can't secure or which offer no real help in their situation, under-funded water infrastructure grants, and an infrastructure program many shires can't access.
Indeed at up to $1.5 million only per shire, the Drought Communities Program is insufficient.
Barnaby Joyce claims hundreds of millions of dollars are going out in concessional loans but he always cites the total value of the loans rather than the cost to government at a time when government borrowing costs are at record lows and the differential between the government loans and commercial loans is small.
The Minister has known of his discretion to extend eligibility to more shires since May and has waited too long to act.
The question now is, will the Government increase the $35 million or will we now just have more shires competing the same amount of money?
WEDNESDAY, 23 DECEMBER 2015