The federal government has been accused of making "ad hoc" decisions surrounding the controversial drought relief scheme after announcing two municipalities were eligible for $1 million in funding - but failing to inform mayors or the federal member.
On Tuesday the government announced Benalla and Wangaratta council areas were each eligible to receive $1 million under the Drought Communities Program, which was widely critcised last year for deeming the water-logged Moyne shire eligible.
Member for Indi Helen Haines said the first she or either region's mayors and staff heard of the funding was on the morning news.
Dr Haines said it was clear that both Wangaratta and Benalla were in need of drought assistance but the "ad hoc" announcement raised serious questions about the government's processes.
"When taxpayer funded initiative such as this are announced in a way that appears ad hoc, that isn't undertaken with what we'd see as normal process, well it's not surprising people are left wondering if in fact there is politics at play," she said.
Dr Haines stopped short of drawing a comparison between the confusion around the drought funding and the current sports grants saga.
"That's a very different scenario, but what we all want as citizens, and what I want as a member of parliament, is clear transparent processes," Dr Haines said.
"So we feel confident the integrity of tax payer dollars is sound, and good decisions are made on appropriate evidence and need, and that that's always done in collaboration with the end user.
"The fact [councils] are very surprised does leave me feeling a little bit doubtful about the process."
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Both mayors confirmed about 3.30pm on Tuesday, they were not aware of any communications between the federal government and their councils.
Wangaratta mayor Dean Rees said the $1 million eligibility was a very welcome surprise. Cr Rees said he first heard council was eligible for the $1 million program when contacted by Dr Haines' office in the morning .
He said he called both the council chief executive who also was not aware of the funding.
"It was a bit of a shock to us, we weren't expecting it and we didn't apply for it but we're very grateful," he said.
Dr Haines said she had to call the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development to check whether news reports about the funding were correct, because no one from the government had contacted her or the councils.
Cr Rees said the city had been through a horror 14 months of floods, drought and fire so the money would help greatly.
When contacted by The Border Mail about 3.30pm Benalla mayor Danny Claridge had not received any communication from the government saying his shire had received the grant.
He said the first he'd heard about the grants was on the radio news in the morning.
Cr Claridge said the region would be happy to receive any funding, but he didn't wish to comment on specifics until they had official information about the drought communities money.
In a statement the department said all 52 councils eligible for the drought communities program were contacted after the announcement.
The spokesman said the department had spoken to both council's chief executives, and the councils would apply for funding.
The department did not say when this contact occurred or why the federal member and councils were not informed ahead of time.
The spokesman said councils would be contacted by the Business Grants Hub on Wednesday and the Minister for Drought would write to eligible councils this week.
Moira council area was also deemed eligible in the latest extension of funding.
Since the Moyne funding issue in September, Ernst and Young has independently review the effectiveness of the program, at a cost of $327,965, and new interim selection methodology has been implemented.