It’s a rare occasion when a Prime Minister stops off in Blayney, and it’s even rarer when a government comes with a bit of cash to spend, but when Scott Morrison took a break from the Bathurst 1000 to travel here, he managed both.
Mr Morrison was in Blayney on Sunday to announce the guidelines for the recently announced $75 million Drought Communities Program, and now Blayney Shire council is urging community groups to come up with ways to spend the $1 million allocated to the shire.
The $75 million project is designed to pump money back into rural towns to help support those businesses that are feeling the impact of farmers having to spend so much of their finances on feed.
From the Prime Minister though to member for Calare Andrew Gee and Blayney mayor Scott Ferguson, the message of this funding was restated again and again: the funds are for community projects and to help keep money circulating in the region, not to be directed solely to farmers.
Council is now urging groups to put forward spending proposals worth more than $25,000 and Cr Ferguson said that community groups and village associations had four to five weeks to put together some ideas.
“All the groups will be getting a letter with a basic application form to put the idea down, tell us how it’s going to help the economy of Blayney shire, who it may employ, what local suppliers may be used, and send it back to us in the next four to five weeks,” he said.
Blayney shire general manager Rebecca Ryan said that the projects have to display how they will stimulate the local economy.
“Eligible expenditure items may include the cost of suppliers, consultants and contracted labour, the materials required, or the purchasing, leasing or hiring of equipment,” she said.
“Most importantly,” Cr Ferguson added, “that’s the only real criteria, so this is open to any groups and it’s a great opportunity to get a lot of those projects underway..”