Member for Eden Monaro, Kristy McBain has written to the Minister for Emergency Management, David Littleproud, requesting a meeting so that funds earmarked to reduce bushfire risk can be allocated and actioned more quickly.
Bushfire affected communities across southern NSW have been disappointed to hear that Commonwealth funds for mitigation works ahead of this bushfire season remain unspent.
Ms McBain quizzed Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Minister Littleproud during Question Time in parliament last week.
“Why did the Prime Minister fail to spend a single cent from an annual $200 million recovery and mitigation fund last financial year for my bushfire affected community?” Ms McBain asked.
The response from Minister Littleproud confirmed that $50 million from the Emergency Response Fund (ERF); money dedicated to mitigation works ahead of last bushfire season, remains unspent.
“I know that Minister Littleproud has a genuine interest in seeing this fund put to work and has indicated that Emergency Management Australia will be going out to the community in the coming weeks with opportunities to take advantage of the $50 million that’s available,” Ms McBain said.
“I look forward to working with the minister to make sure these funds are rolled out ASAP. The communities of Eden Monaro already know what needs to happen and want to get to work.
“Anxiety is growing, especially on the back of uncomfortably warm spring temperatures.
“Local communities and landholders have been doing what they can to reduce the risk posed this season, but their spirits have been depleted to hear that $50 million that could be supporting their work right now is still sitting in Treasury.
“The jobs, confidence and reassurance this money would have injected into places like Tumbarumba, Bombay, Verona, Carwoola, Delegate, and Bodalla is a heartbreaking dropped ball.”
Shadow Minister for Disaster and Emergency Management, Senator Murray Watt, said its clear that regional communities are still being forgotten by the Morrison Government.
“The Government’s inaction means we have lost the chance to use these funds to build fire breaks, evacuation centres, flood levees, cyclone shelters and other infrastructure we need,” Senator Watt said.
“Last year, we saw Scott Morrison ignore disaster warnings and Australians paid the price.
“Sadly, it’s happening again.”
Ms McBain is committed to making sure the lessons of last bushfire season aren’t ignored and that the recommendations of the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements and the NSW Bushfire Inquiry are actioned.
“We owe it to the 33 people killed, the 3,000 plus homes destroyed, the 3 billion animals wiped out, and the tens of millions of hectares scorched to follow through on what needs to be done,” she said.
8 September, 2020