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McBain: Morrison falls short on bushfire response

"On the eve of the federal Budget, Scott Morrison has yet again fallen short on delivering vital support for our bushfire affected communities.

"Seven months after interim report recommendations from the Senate Inquiry into the Black Summer bushfires was handed down, the Government last week announced it would not support three quarters of the recommendations put forward. These included, among others, all recommendations in support of the insurance industry."

Kristy McBain, Member for Eden-Monaro has called on the Government to do better, stating “Insurance issues should be front and centre in our bushfire recovery”.

“Every day I speak with community members and local businesses who have been unable to obtain affordable insurance, with many unable to re-insure altogether.”

The Morrison Government is once again shirking responsibility in supporting our regional communities, going so far as to say that “state and territory governments have responsibility for the protection of life, property and the environment within their jurisdiction.”

We cannot afford to see more delays to mitigation and resilience projects, with the Morrison Government repeatedly failing to deliver any actual commitments that will protect the Eden-Monaro region from future disaster seasons.

“People are still waiting to see a cent from the $4 billion mitigation and recovery fund the Morrison Government announced in its 2019 Budget,” Ms McBain said.

“Not a dollar of that fund has been spent in two years. Why?”

Of the 13 recommendations put forward by the inquiry the Government has refused to support nine, including:

  • Implementing monthly reporting requirements for state and local governments and non-government organisations that have received funding from the Morrison Government’s National Bushfire Recovery Agency to ensure that recovery funding is actually getting into communities;

  • Developing a business case to establish a sovereign aerial firefighting fleet;

  • Reviewing, with the view to increase, the Disaster Recovery Payment and Disaster Recovery Allowance;

  • Recommencing work on the climate change-related prudential practice and governance guide as it relates to the general insurance industry;

  • Undertaking financial vulnerability stress testing of the insurances sector, including consideration of capital adequacy in anticipation of worst-case scenario severe weather events causing catastrophic insurance losses;

  • Reversing cuts to the ABC, Australia’s national emergency broadcaster during natural disasters; and

  • Telehealth initiatives that were announced on a temporary basis to support victims suffering from mental health issues following the bushfires.

All these recommendations were proposed following extensive consultation with Government agencies, not-for-profits working in bushfire communities, the insurance industry, firefighters, emergency service workers and survivors.

Labor believes in preparing for future natural disasters, including establishing a sovereign aerial firefighting fleet.

“Eden-Monaro communities are tired of being forced to carry the burden of resilience alone. It’s time for this Government to stop talking about our recovery and to start acting on it,” Ms McBain stated.

Above" "My mum worked in aged care for 15 years, so I know first hand the impact that our neglected system has on residents and workers. That’s why I joined aged care workers from across the region yesterday to deliver a simple message. It’s time to #ChangeAgedCare"