Opinion

Moira Shire’s double drought

By Shepparton News

In the dark art of federal funding, numbers are everything.

Falling below the required criteria can mean all or nothing - or in the case of Moira Shire, a funding drought or a flood.

Moira Shire farmers are understandably angry to be cold-shouldered by the Federal Government on such an infinitesimally small margin.

Katunga dairy farmer Bridget Goulding summed up the situation with the same sharp assessment that number crunchers are known for.

“It's a huge kick in the guts,” Ms Goulding said.

Cobram and District Fruit Growing Association president Tony Siciliano was more succinct.

“Bulls**t,” was Mr Siciliano's analysis of the situation.

And regardless of the accuracy or not of the percentages involved - we could not agree more with the emotional intelligence of Mr Siciliano's assessment.

If government number crunchers can make the embarrassing error of allocating money where it is not needed as happened with Moyne Shire, surely they can err on the positive side and allocate to 0.1 per cent above the line?

With the fluidity of agricultural workers, farmer numbers and their dependent businesses rising and falling by the week, it must be impossible to create an accurate data-driven picture of the region with such precision.

Things change, people leave, businesses close and they open again. Equally, an afternoon sun shower could bump up the rainfall figure for any particular day.

The point is, 0.1 per cent is an utterly immeasurable figure when it comes to employment - or any human movement in socioeconomic terms.

Any normal economic assessment contains a margin of error - a small amount allowed for in case of miscalculation or change of circumstances.

Where is the margin of error here?

To deprive an entire region's farming community of help that is so desperately needed at this time because of an immeasurable margin may indeed obey the economic, but the decision obeys no rule of common sense.