Timboon Lions Club has been left with a $280,000 fuel bill after its highly-successful hay drive to fire-affected farmers in Corryong.
While transport operators who donated the use of their trucks or who just claimed fuel costs during recent hay drives have been congratulated by community leaders for upholding the Australian spirit, others have claimed much more.
Victorian Farmers Federation president David Jochinke said there was a memorandum of understanding with the state government and maximum rates which could be applied for transport of fodder to bushfire or drought impacted areas.
Questions have been asked this week after the club was left with the outstanding bill of $280,000 for 82 trucks.
It's understood that fuel costs for that trip were about $1200 and there was a maximum rate of $6.30 a kilometre which could be claimed for B-doubles to a maximum of $4000, plus GST.
While many operators did not claim fuel or just claimed their fuel costs, the 82 trucks who went the 650 kilometres from Timboon to Corryong have claimed an average $3400 each.
Mr Jochinke said the VFF had the capacity to conduct a full audit of all claims.
He said he expected the fuel payment to be paid to the Timboon Lions Club either in the next week, or fortnight.
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"Those fuel costs will be paid in coming days," he said.
"There's no choice about that upper limit, but we need that fodder to be shifted at that time. We can't wait for donated transport.
"The objective is to shift fodder in a short period when it's most needed and we have to achieve that through the use of whatever transport is available.
"Not everyone who donates fodder has the capacity to transport it and to balance that up we have to take the offer of assistance from within the transport industry to take up the slack.
"I'm saying that claiming the transport fees is not a sustainable business model."
Upper House member for Western Victoria Bev McArthur said those who donated their services or just claimed fuel had to be "particularly congratulated."
"Absolutely at time of need those are the people who are upholding the Australian spirit of helping each other," she said.
"I know many people who don't care about the money and simply want to help. Those are the people I want to recognise as being outstanding Australians."
Mr Jochinke encouraged those who had helped out with the fodder drives to claim what they thought was a fair amount.
"But, having said that we are operating these hay drives and obtaining fodder in crisis times, at times of tragedy and we have got to be practical about how we approach the situations," he said.
"We are conducting random spot checks on claims that don't seem to be right."
Mrs McArthur said she hoped and trusted that the fuel subsidy scheme was not exploited for personal gain while making sure that transport was provided when required.
"The generous rebate was designed to encourage farmers to give hay to save the lives of fire-affected livestock and facilitate the transportation of that fodder," she said.
Timboon Lions Club president Max Anderson welcomed news the payments would be made in the next fortnight.
"That's what I have been told," he said.
"The hay drive was excellent. It went really well.
"We followed farmers to their farms and dropped it straight off. I couldn't be happier with the end result."