A local government leader has slammed a new round of Federal Government drought funding offering payments to WA farmers in shires such as Busselton and Albany but not to those in drier areas. Prime Minister Scott Morrison earlier this year identified 35 WA communities to each receive up to $1 million funding for local infrastructure through the Drought Communities Program. Successful areas included Busselton, Albany, Donnybrook and Denmark but no shires in the drought-ravaged pastoral regions. WA Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan said when the January funding package was announced that it was bizarre and without logic. She questioned the credibility of a scheme that considered Busselton and Albany eligible for drought funding, while shires such as Laverton, Mt Magnet and Wiluna were not. A second round of funding has since been released, offering one-off $3000 payments to farmers or farm workers in the same 35 areas identified in January. The funding is available through the Salvation Army or St Vincent de Paul. Morawa shire president Karen Chappel, also deputy president of the WA Local Government Association, said the areas identified for the latest round of funding compounded frustrations and feeling of inequality among those in the dry areas that were not eligible. “These extra $3000 payments have rubbed salt into the wounds for those people who have a genuine need for financial help to pay their bills but are not eligible because they aren’t living or working within those shires that qualify,” she said. “I’ve had a few calls in recent days from local government members expressing their concerns.” Earlier this year WALGA had planned to send a delegation of local government representatives including Cr Chappel to meet Drought Minister David Littleproud, asking to justify why some of WA’s driest regions had been denied funding under the program. Council groups backing the effort come from across the southern rangelands/pastoral regions, as well as Wheatbelt shires including Koorda, Dalwallinu, and Greater Geraldton. Cr Chappel said those plans had been put on hold because of COVID-19. A Federal Department of Infrastructure spokesman said there were several other Federal and State Government programs that provided support for drought-affected areas. “While the Government recognises some areas may be disappointed not to become eligible in this round, there is no perfect definition for drought or its economic impacts,” the spokesman said. “Different regions experience drought differently, and the Government has used a model that hones in on how a period of low rainfall might have impacted a community’s local economy.” Selection criteria is based on annual rainfall data compared to longer term averages, and employment thresholds in agriculture or related industries. Mining dominated rangelands shires failed to meet the 12 per cent agricultural threshold so were not eligible.