Alice Springs, Northern Territory, will host the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) Roads Congress this month.
On page three of LG Focus this month, the ALGA President, David O’Loughlin talks about a special gathering of affected Councils from drought areas to be held in conjunction with the Roads Congress.

Taking advantage of the national event already convened, the special gathering will discuss how to maximise the opportunity provided by the Federal Government’s Drought Communities Program (DCP).

With an invitation for all councils affected to attend, this is a good opportunity to discuss the requirements needed to be eligible for the grant money available.

This is a positive step forward for local councils and shires to put their hands up in a time of crisis.

A drought, unlike other disasters, grows slowly over many years and does not have the visual impact of floods, fires and cyclones which provide graphic images of damaged property, blackened landscapes, trees and buildings blown away, houses and business’s underwater, and easily calculable financial costings.

Only recently have the extent of the current drought and the proportion of the country already in its grip become widely known.

Until reports on the ABC’s 7:30 Report captured the public’s attention and Federal Government relief gestures were publicised, the suffering of farming families were going largely unnoticed by the wider community.

The toll that the big dry has had/is having on farms and farming communities went unseen.

The domino effect of such weather events has an enormous impact on the local communities involved, when the farmers can’t pay their bills or buy the necessities of life, the businesses in town feel it and curtail their own spending.

I remember many years ago when the owner of a menswear store told me their profits and their ability to employ extra staff depended on how the local farmers were going, if the menswear store was going well so also was the farming community if they weren’t neither were the farmers.

As the ALGA president says, the councils need to be able to comply with established procurement and tender processes and spend the money wisely with maximum impact for local employment.

This is a good initiative of the ALGA.

See you in Alice.