Published by The Border Watch
By Katie Jackson
Despite mounting financial protocols, Mount Gambier hay Run organisers Adam Smith said the charity’s final 4000 bales will be delivered to Kangaroo Island and Keilira this week.
Delivery came to a standstill last week when pleas to the State Government to subsidize fuel costs “fell on deaf ears”, leaving the group to foot the bill.
With around 15 truck loads of hay ready to go and fuel expected cost upwards of $3000 per truck for a return trip to Kangaroo Island, Mr Smith Believed the feat impossible without additional financial support.
Mr Smith said if he was to take the donated bales to other bushfire or drought affected areas across the country, he could apply for grants through other governments, but no such system existed in South Australia.
Speaking with politicians about the dire situation, Mr Smith was told the State Government had “no appetite for the South Australian Government to match [interstate finding] or help”. Mr Smith expressed his frustrations when speaking to The Border Watch on Friday, with publicity of the issue triggering the outpouring of donations from the community.
This included a $20,000 donation from Lions Australia, which “blew away” Mr Smith. “I got the phone call from Lions this morning (Monday) and I just couldn’t believe it” He said.
“To have reached a national group like that is amazing, I was not expecting it at all.
“We are incredibly grateful for the support we have received from everyone around the country, but this is not the way it should be.”
“The government cannot expect the community to bankroll the entire thing – I am sure the majority of voters would like to see their money go towards helping out fellow South Aussies, so why are they not taking notice?”
Member for Mount Gambier Troy bell was approached by Mr Smith to lobby the cause, with the MP vowing to “seek answers”
“I understand his frustration with the State Government, and I want to commend him and others for their continuing hard work in attempting to get these fodder supplies to Kangaroo Island” He said.
“It is disheartening to think farmers and animals in need are waiting for this assistance when there is hay ready to go from our region.
“This week, I am back in Parliament and will be seeking answers as to why our State Government cannot offer transport subsidy models similar to those being offered NSW and Victoria”
Mr Bell said it was unfair to ask transport operators to bear this cost burden when they are already donating their own time and vehicles.
“Getting fodder to fire-affected areas as quickly as possible is crucially important,” he said.
“South Australians are trying to help other South Australians at a time of need.
“Our State Government needs to step up, support these groups and provide some assistance for these goods to go into bushfire affected areas”
The State Government did not address a question on whether it would provide a subsidy before this edition of The Border Watch went to print.