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Bushfire-Impacted Families Rejected In Time Of Need

Member for Gilmore, Fiona Phillips MP has revealed "Shocking figures released by the National Bushfire Recovery Agency have shown that forty one percent of bushfire victims in the Gilmore electorate have been rejected for assistance through the Federal-State funded debris clean-up program.

"According to the figures, out of 833 properties registered for the clean-up in the Shoalhaven, only 390, or almost 47 per cent, were deemed in scope. In the Eurobodalla, only 461 out of 1248 properties, or 37 per cent, were considered eligible.

Above: figures from a SENATE QUESTION - State-funded debris clean-up programs

Question No. 1680

Senator Murray Watt: asked the Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, Drought

and Emergency Management on 1 July 2020—

With reference to state-funded debris clean-up programs:

1. Can the following data be provided, broken down by Federal electorate or region (LGA) :

a. the number of properties which registered for state funded debris clean-up programs

in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia;

b. the number of properties which were deemed “within scope”, or eligible for state

funded debris clean-up programs in New South Wales, Victoria and

South Australia; and

c. the number of properties which were deemed outside of the scope, or ineligible for

state funded debris clean-up programs in New South Wales, Victoria and South


2. What were the eligibility guidelines used by the state funded debris agencies to determine whether properties are deemed “within scope”, or eligible for clean-up, for New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.

Senator the Hon Ann Ruston the Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency

Management has provided the following answer to the Honourable Senator’s question:

1. The responses (see table above in part) were developed from information provided by the New South Wales, South Australian and Victorian Governments.

Data reported may differ from other published amounts as property eligibility is

continually reviewed by the states.

The Member for Gilmore said she was simply gobsmacked to learn that bushfire victims in New South Wales were 25 times more likely to be rejected for debris cleanup than those in Victoria, and 82 times more likely than those in South Australia.

“In yet another example of the Morrison Government’s Phantom Fund failures, bushfire-impacted families on the South Coast have been left high and dry after the Prime Minister promised there would be no cost to them to clean up their property,” Fiona Phillips said.

When the State-Federal funded bushfire debris cleanup program was announced in late January, the Prime Minister said,

“Government is picking up the bill for the clean-up, at no cost to owners, so if you’re uninsured, this is one less thing to worry about and if you are insured, it means you will be able to use every dollar of your policy to rebuild.”

Mrs Phillips says "Clearly this has not been the case for nearly half of South Coast bushfire victims relying on Government support to assist in cleaning up their properties.

While Fiona Phillips said she respects that assistance is not always within scope, tough questions must be asked as to why so many more properties have been deemed ineligible for assistance in New South Wales, compared to other states.

“Our community has been to hell and back this year – but as one farmer told me, the government continues to retraumatise local people impacted by bushfire,” Fiona Phillips said.

“I have heard from so many people who were told one thing, before the government changed their mind and refused to help with their clean up. From asbestos to fallen trees and sheds, local people have been forced to deal with the destruction to their homes on their own,” Mrs Phillips said.

“I am simply appalled. The Prime Minister needs to step up and explain why his government has abandoned local people impacted by bushfire,” she said. 

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