Government To Spend $650 Million Helping Bushfire-Ravaged Communities Recover
The federal government will announce a new $650 million package to help regional Australians recover from the devastating summer of bushfires.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said $448.5 million would be allocated to individual communities to support local projects and recovery plans. He said there were 18,600 families and businesses in bushfire-affected areas which were targeted for the funding, with money available for land and water development, replacing produce and stock, supporting local jobs, and building future resilience.
“Every community is different and every community is at a different point in their recovery. That’s why the projects that these funds will support are not one-size-fits-all – they will reflect community needs," Morrison said.
“This is about locals leading the recovery with the National Bushfire Recovery Agency and our state and local partners ensuring our support gets to where it’s needed most.”
The PM said "the same communities that were hurting most from the bushfires are hurting from the impacts of COVID-19."
"The impacts have been devastating,” he said.
“This funding injection comes as the damage from the bushfires has made itself clear in the weeks and months after they passed and regions have been finalising the sorts of projects they want to get underway to build back better."
“I urge local communities to work with their state governments and to provide the National Bushfire Recovery Agency with their priority projects as soon as possible."
In response to criticisms that federal funding for bushfire recovery had been delayed or slow in getting into the hands of fire victims, National Bushfire Recovery Coordinator Andrew Colvin said "money is flowing quite well".
Colvin acknowledged reports of people still living in tents, but he and Morrison defended the timeline by citing the difficulty of responding to factors such as difficult terrain and asbestos from damaged homes.
"We're working hard to make sure there are no blockages to how this money rolls out. We are finding that the money is getting into individuals and businesses' pockets quickly," Colvin said, adding somme businesses had received assistance within 24 hours of applying.
"Anyone displaced or still living in a tent... the states are working hard to make sure that they're not. I know that every person who has been displaced from their home has been given the offer of temporary accommodation."