MOYNE Shire will not apply for a $1 million grant allocated to the shire for drought relief, councillors have decided.
The federal Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development confirmed on Tuesday morning that Moyne was eligible for the Drought Communities funding, announced last week.
Councillors unanimously voted afterwards to not apply for the money, stating Moyne Shire was not in drought and "morally" could not take the money.
"Morally, none of the councillors believed we could apply for the funding in good conscience," mayor Mick Wolfe said.
"We may have accepted it under another program, but not under drought funding."
The councillors now hope the government will reallocate the money to another local government area where drought is evidently impacting farmers.
"Just what happens with the money is up to the federal government, not to us, but in our response that we won't be seeking that funding we hope it will go to someone who deserves it, who needs it," Cr Wolfe said.
A department spokesperson said the government remained committed to delivering the program, but would take local knowledge into account.
"We also understand the importance of local knowledge in determining areas most in need of drought support and will continue to engage with those communities," he said.
The eligibility criteria included Bureau of Meteorology rainfall data, but that data only captured the 24 months prior to July this year. The criteria also considered economic and industry data.
Councillors had earlier suggested the allocation could have been meant for Moira Shire in Victoria's north, but the department eliminated that possibility.
Cr Wolfe said the decision to include Moyne was up to the federal government to review.
"That is something for the federal government to consider, not us," he said. "The word drought is really the problem. The data may say it's a drought, I'm saying it's not a drought."
He said the council had not applied for drought funding in the 11 years he had served as a councillor.
The Standard exclusively broke the story on Saturday morning when councillors were stunned to learn Moyne was among 13 additional local government areas to win a slice of the $100 million drought relief package announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday.
On Sunday federal Drought Minister David Littleproud's office doubled down, revealing data used showed 62 per cent of Moyne in drought.
That appeared at odds with lush green paddocks, fence-high crops and the recent flooding of the corkscrew bridge between Grassmere and Grassmere Junction, councillors said.
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