Thank you Mr Deputy Speaker,
Eden-Monaro is determined to put the challenges of 2020 behind us.
This year has taken its toll – the scars are deep – but bigger than that is the spirit with which communities are rising to make the most of the opportunities that come from adversity.
We are a glass half full community!
But the hits just keep coming from Liberal – National Governments.
Late yesterday my office received news that the NSW Government had rejected a funding application from the Batlow community.
Back in January the Dunns Road Fire came right into town – locals were told the town was undefendable and they were left to fend for themselves.
And it seems they are being left to fend for themselves again by the NSW State Government.
Far from giving up - the Batlow fruit growing community applied to the NSW Government’s Bushfire Industry Recovery Package.
Investment earmarked to grow and develop the Batlow economy and community - to “light the spark” on Batlow’s renewal.
One local industry leader who wrote to me yesterday said;
“For Batlow not to receive any portion of the sector development funding is absurd – to not receive any assistance is to intentionally disregard what has happened.”
“To have so many dignitaries use Batlow to show their empathetic concerns and be used to promote their own position after the fires and then to ignore Batlow when it counts is shameful,” he said.
Mr Deputy Speaker - There for the photo op but not the follow up!
When I visited Batlow Apples in May and again in August the impact was clear – you can see it in the landscape and on the face of growers.
Batlow fruit growers lost around 30,000 trees – a 30% hit to local production. Not to mention the netting, infrastructure and machinery that was also lost.
As a Batlow local told me yesterday; “to be left out completely when so many promises were made is another hefty kick to the economic wellbeing and future of Batlow.”
Mr Deputy Speaker - I trust that the NSW State Government hasn’t closed the door on Batlow, that that they will look for ways to work with growers, business and community groups to do the right thing.
Indeed, I know from previous Batlow Community Forums that the community is coming together – from community groups, to residents and farmers to local business. They are talking about their renewal and looking for opportunities and positive outcomes for their town following on from this disaster.
I will continue to work with the Batlow community to make sure they get their fair share.
As the community would say – “Do it for Batlow!”