Councils across the Mid West have reacted with surprise following announcement of an extension in drought relief funding by the Federal Government, which was based on rainfall deficiency data over the past few years. The extension of the drought communities program will see 11 councils in Durack eligible to receive between $500,000 and $1 million in grants to spend on infrastructure and drought relief. Of the 52 councils that will benefit from these grants, the majority are West Australian with 35 receiving the program extension. Seven Mid West shires were deemed eligible for the funding: Carnamah, Coorow, Dandaragan, Irwin, Mingenew, Moora and Three Springs. The grant amount will be based on population numbers, councils that have a population of less than 1000 people will receive $500,000 and those with larger populations will receive $1 million. Federal Member for Durack, Melissa Price, said communities should take advantage of the funding for local infrastructure projects and other drought relief activities. However all are not happy after the announcement. The Member for North West Central, Vince Catania, said Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s claim drought affected West Australians had not been forgotten are unfathomable. He said the Southern Rangelands had missed out on funding. “The minister (for drought) toured the drought-ravaged region and met with over 100 pastoralists in Meekatharra and Kalgoorlie, where he acknowledged the grim situation ... yet still this region has been omitted,” he said. City of Greater Geraldton Mayor Shane Van Styn said this announcement was unexpected and the choices were made at a Federal level against rainfall deficiency data over the past three to five years. Van Styn said shires that had experienced drought longer than this did not meet the criteria. “So if you’ve been in drought for that time you’re not suffering a rainfall deficiency compared to the long-term average,” he said. City of Greater Geraldton chief executive Ross McKim confirmed the chairman of the West Australian Local Government Association Northern Country Zone was preparing a complaint to the Federal Government on the council selection process. “Really it should have been all of them in the Mid West rather than just selecting a few councils,” he said.