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Albanese and Phillips call into Sth Durras to listen to the community

Fiona Phillips, the Federal Member for Gilmore and Labor Leader Anthony Albanese visited the South Durras to discuss their concerns, and the concerns across the Gilmore electorate of preparations for the upcoming bushfire season

Exploring the community facilities and sites Fiona Phillips said "It's wonderful to be here with Trevor Daly, President of the Durras Community Association and to be here today with Anthony Albanese." "I was here only just recently as well, talking with Trevor and learning more about some of the issues, major issues, that this community faced and is looking to future-proof in future bushfires and other future disasters. I'm particularly concerned about the power issues, the communication issues that happened during the bushfires. "There's a whole range of issues also in terms of lack of access for people with a disability. We have no Eurobodalla emergency operations centre. These are all issues that we need to address."

"And this is a similar story that's happening all up and down the coast, particularly where we've got those communities with one road in and one road out. We want to know what we can do to help those communities if there is another disaster, which I hope there's not." The member for Gilmore toured the town looking at particular local issues and heard first hand from members of the Community Association of their concerns and ideas around power and communications.

Mr Albanese said, in a media statement he made outside the Durras Progress hall that "Fiona has been a strident voice for this community, making sure that when the cameras left after the bushfires, the concern didn't. And that's one of the reasons why Federal Labor has had a focus on disaster recovery, but also on mitigation. "The fact of the establishment of the fund of $200 million a year, $150 million for disaster recovery, but $50 million for mitigation, was an important victory. Unfortunately, not a single dollar of that money has been spent. And that's an indictment of complacency. "Because the issues that the Community Association are talking about; making sure that power poles are resilient, making sure that communications and power are available and not intermittent or not disrupted, are absolutely vital.

"The issue of having an emergency response centre is another one for this region as well. And we know from our experience over the last summer that these issues are ones that are far more difficult to handle if you haven't had the appropriate preparation there. So, here we are in July saying we need to do much better in the future than we've done in the past. And one of the ways that governments at all levels can do better is listen to local community associations and groups such as this one. They know what's happening on the ground. They know what the needs of their local community are. "And Trevor was telling us that 100 members of this community, which has just 300 homes in it, attended a meeting and help put together this five-point plan of the Community Association. So, Labor stands ready to continue to advocate for these communities. "We need to bring forward the upgrades of the Princes Highway as a priority, given that we know what occurred over the summer as well with long queues, and with, quite frankly, dangerous circumstances in people leaving the smaller communities on the coast as well. So, we need to make sure that we do whatever we can to mitigate the risk that is here for these communities."

Trevor Daly, the Durras Community Association President, said in response "We were very lucky in this area, the bushfires burned around us, to the north, to the west and headed down towards Batemans Bay during December. We've been fortunate, and our community wasn't directly affected, it did come very close. But that's allowed us to focus on, 'well, what can we do better for the future and what can we learn from what's happened the fires?' "So, we had a meeting here, as Anthony mentioned, of our community. We came up with a list of issues for all levels of government. But for the Commonwealth Government, we had five specific things. One was we want a fireproof electricity supply. And that involves replacing up to 30 power poles that are timber, which I'll show you later an example. "We want those replaced with composite fireproof power poles. We want to improve mobile phones coverage along the highway." Mr Daly continued "You can still drive between Ulladulla and Batemans Bay, it's a major highway in this country, and yet there's blackspots where your mobile phone drops out. So, in an emergency, you get to the highway, you have an accident, you've got no coverage. We also want to do some issues with power backup to our NBN tower. We have fixed wireless NBN access in this village. We want backup power on that plus the mobile phone towers so that if the electricity supply goes out, you have battery backup for at least 12 hours. Both Telstra and Optus have come to the party on that. And we're working with NBN. "We also want tax deductions from the Commonwealth Government for landowners and property owners in this area and other areas in this country that actually invest in protecting their properties from bushfires. Things like putting sprinklers on your roof, buying firefighting pumps, gutter guards, that sort of thing. You should be able to claim a tax deduction for those things. And also, we've got a local brigade here which we could do with a bit more equipment." "So, we're hoping that we can convince some authorities to help fund those. So, they're the key things we think the Commonwealth can assist with. We've also got, obviously, things we want the state government to do in terms of hazard reduction, tree clearing rules, that sort of thing, and also local government as well".

Above: Member for Gilmore Fiona Phillips, accompanied by Labor Leader Anthony Albanese met Durras Community Association President Trevor Daly

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