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O'Brien-Walsh - Dedicated fund needed to support bushfire recovery

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

The bushfires that ripped through north-east Victoria and East Gippsland have had a catastrophic impact on local communities.

The mammoth task of cleaning up homes and sheds that were destroyed and replacing fencing and farm infrastructure will take years.

A dedicated fund is required to ensure the rebuilding needs of local communities are met.

Today, the Liberal Nationals call on the Victorian Government to establish a Bushfire Recovery Fund to assist affected communities to recover from the bushfire devastation.

Given the Australian Government has committed $2 billion and the NSW Government has committed $1 billion, the Andrews Labor Government should establish a Victorian Bushfire Recovery Fund with a minimum of $500 million over the next two years.

The Bushfire Recovery Fund should provide for:

· Post bushfire clean-up and demolition programs, as well as rebuilding and replacing public and farm infrastructure lost or damaged as a result of the bushfires;

· Assistance for community recovery from bushfires, including grants for rebuilding community facilities;

· Environmental restoration work, including the re-seeding of forests and rehabilitation of affected flora and fauna;

· Support packages for local small businesses and tourism operators impacted by the bushfires, including specific tourism promotion campaigns for bushfire-affected areas; and

· Mental health support programs to help individuals and families through the aftermath of the devastating loss of life and property.

Unlike New South Wales, which has committed a $1 billion fund dedicated to rebuilding and the recovery of communities, the Andrews Labor Government has no fund or plan to ensure that necessary resources are readily available to Victorians.

Victorians expect that the money allocated to the recovery and rebuilding of our communities is properly accounted for. It must be delivered directly to affected communities and not tied up in a new Labor bureaucracy.

Nor should the fund be sourced through an increase in the Fire Services Property Levy or other additional impost on taxpayers.

So many Victorians have generously contributed to support those affected by the bushfires; it is time for the Government to cut waste to better support those in need, rather than increasing taxes yet again.

Comments attributable to Leader of the Opposition, Michael O’Brien:

“Families, farmers, businesses and communities deserve to know their immediate and ongoing needs will be met at a time when they need it most.

“The Federal and NSW governments have stepped up to with a dedicated bushfire recovery fund. The Andrews Labor Government now has a responsibility to step up with a dedicated fund to assist communities to rebuild and recover.”

Comments attributable to Leader of The Nationals, Peter Walsh:

“Our country communities have shown tremendous resilience, but they will need ongoing support to get back on their feet.

“Each community is unique, with unique needs. A dedicated recovery fund will ensure local people have a say in making sure this money is directed where it’s needed most.”