MOUNT Gambier Hay Run organiser Adam Smith says the fundraiser has hit a brick wall after pleas for a State Government-funded fuel subsidy has not been supported.
Speaking to The Border Watch this morning, Mr Smith said he had spoken to State MPs Troy Bell and Nick McBride along with Federal Member for Barker Tony Pasin with hopes to have the hay run’s fuel costs to Kangaroo Island subsidised, but the trio were unable to lobby successfully.
Mr Smith said he received a text message from Mr McBride stating he had been in contact with South Australian Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government Minister Stephan Knoll.
Mr McBride’s reply – which has been seen by The Border Watch – said there was “no appetite for the South Australian Government to match [interstate funding] or help”.
This comes as the New South Wales and Victorian Governments have pledged fuel subsidy funding for aid materials to fire affected regions.
“You can apply for up to $50,000 in NSW for fuel subsidy,” Mr Smith said.
“The Victorian Government is subsidising too, but our government is telling us there is ‘no appetite’.
“It’s pretty disappointing not to have support from our own government when all we are trying to do is help out our fellow South Aussies.
“We have around 4000 bales ready to go, but the community cannot be the ones who have to cough up the funds to get the hay there.
“Surely it’s time for the government to step in.”
Mr Bell backed fuel subsidies and pledged to lobby the State Government, but believed there needed to be collaboration with the Federal Government.
“There is movement – there is $120,000 available for the cost of the ferry, whether that is enough or not, I don’t know,” he said.
“I do believe there should be a fuel subsidy for those who are transporting aid material, whether that is fence posts or hay.
“I haven’t got that commitment out of the State Government yet, but it is something I have been working the phones on.
“Where we have to start looking is the $2b fund Scott Morrison has committed, as well as State Government contributions, so this is a coordinated and timely response to those in need.”
When Prime Minister Morrison first announced the $2b National Bushfire Recovery Fund, he vowed to meet “every cost that needs to be met.”
While Mr Pasin agreed the those providing hay donations should be assisted, he said it was a matter for the State Government and not associated with Federal funding.
“I am encouraging my State colleagues to allocate funding for this purpose,” he said.
“Assistance to feed stock following natural disasters has always been the responsibility of State and Territory Governments, which is why NSW and Victoria have be stepping up in this space.
“The $2b allocated for the recovery is for costs associated with the Federal Government’s responsibilities – human welfare is the Federal Government’s responsibility but animal welfare lies with the State and Territory Governments.
“It seems ridiculous that local hay could be taken to NSW or Victoria with subsidies from those Government’s but we can’t get it to our South Australian farmers that desperately need it.”
The Border Watch has contacted the State Government for comment.