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The ramifications of Australian Government’s funding cuts have again rippled across the Central West with the recent removal of Desert Uplands Committee representation from the Board of Desert Channels Queensland.
According to Peter Douglas, Chair of DCQ, the government only provided $50,000 for the whole of the DCQ region to fund small groups like the Desert Uplands Committee.
“I really feel for the Desert Uplands Committee,” said Peter Douglas. “We used to give them around $150,000 a year plus project funds, and now we’ve got a third of that to split between more than a dozen eligible groups.
“Funding cuts have hit us hard and we’ve had to make some difficult decisions to ensure our ongoing strength and viability. We’ve had to let a quarter of our staff go and end projects like our weed control that has been so successful for so long. Government just didn’t fund it, simple as that.”
Mr Douglas said that as a result of changed Government criteria, the Desert Uplands Committee is now in direct competition with DCQ, not only for the sparse government funds but also in commercial arm activities.
“It’s a clear conflict of interest, and the Board members of DCQ have a legal obligation to comply with very clear and strict corporate governance; our hands were tied,” he said.
At the DCQ board meeting held last week, the representative positions for the Desert Uplands Committee were voted off the Board; representation for the Desert Uplands area is now restricted to the Cooper’s Creek Catchment Committee only.
“Changes brought to the board structure will retain positive representation from across the region and still meet current financial constraints,” said Mr Douglas.
“The Desert Uplands Committee has been integral to the Desert Channels Queensland process since its inception, and its input over the years has been extremely valuable in the delivery of on-ground projects and input into the community vision for the region,” he said.
According to Peter Douglas, this special relationship has seen the western half of the Desert Uplands area enjoy double representation on the DCQ Board – through the Cooper’s Creek Catchment Committee and the Desert Uplands Committee – and two bites at the funding cherry, through DCQ and through the Desert Uplands Committee.
“We remain committed to seeking ongoing partnerships with the Desert Uplands Committee and servicing our stakeholders in the Desert Uplands area,” said Mr Douglas.
“Landholders in that part of the Desert Uplands area that falls within the Desert Channels region will still be serviced by projects, funding opportunities and representation directly through DCQ and the Cooper’s Creek Catchment Committee,” he said.
“While this is bitter medicine to swallow, we understand the nation is battling tough economic times, and these decisions are a direct result of the wider financial environment.