Farmers given more time to take stock of flood damage
Victorian farmers will have more time to take stock of flood and storm damage after the government pushed back the cut-off date for financial support applications.
The Andrews government on Tuesday announced eligible primary producers would have until July 13 to apply for support - an extension of more than two months from the previous April 30 date.
The support programs are joint-funded by the state and federal governments and include flood recovery grants of up to $75,000, rural landholder grants of up to $25,000, transport grants of up to $15,000 and flood recovery concessional loans of up to $250,000.
"Last year's disaster caused significant damage and disruption to communities across Victoria, through flash flooding, landslips, road damage and closures and impacts from fallen trees," federal Emergency Management Minister Murray Watt said.
"By extending the date for applications, we're making sure farmers who were affected later have time to assess damages and complete their applications for financial support."
The state government also announced concessional loans of up to $250,000 for primary producers in the Greater Shepparton and Yarra Ranges local government areas who were affected by the March 23 hailstorm.
The storm was the third significant one to hit Greater Shepparton during the horticultural season, Mr Watt said.
Melbourne Water was tasked with independently reviewing October's devastating Maribyrnong River floods.
Emails and documents obtained by The Age newspaper under freedom of information laws revealed the inquiry's former chair identified a perceived conflict of interest before his appointment in December.
Inquiry lead Nick Wimbush was the sole person on a panel when Melbourne Water requested changes to the one-in-100-year flood overlay for part of the Rivervue Retirement Village.
Dozens of properties within the village were damaged when the river broke its banks last year.
In an email to Melbourne Water on November 24, Mr Wimbush noted his involvement on the panel and recommended its "early disclosure".
He stepped down from the role in February after conflict of interest questions were raised, and emails showed Melbourne Water sent a draft statement to the minister's office and department requesting "urgent approval".
Premier Daniel Andrews denied Melbourne Water sought his government's approval for the media lines.
"If you're going to communicate about all manner of different matters that are of public interest, then it's appropriate to make sure that the minister, who might well be asked about these matters is in the loop," he said.
Opposition water spokesman Tim McCurdy said he "smelled a rat" over the non-disclosure and accused the government of having its fingerprints everywhere.