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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

McKenzie BBay announcement simply a photo op

Senator The Hon. Bridget McKenzie was in Bateman’s Bay today to announce additional funding to the Coastal and Estuarine Risk Mitigation Program, aimed at reducing the impacts on communities of natural disasters and coastal hazards, such as storm surges and coastal inundation. $150 million from the allocation isn't actually new money but is instead money that is drawn down from the grossly underspent Emergency Response Fund (ERF) for disaster mitigation and resilience. The 10a.m announcement outside the Innes Boatshed and directly opposite Surfside that has been identified as under threat of tidal inundation fell well short when it was revealed that the Liberal and Nationals Government was allocating another $50 million from the Emergency Response Fund to continue to protect communities from the effects of natural disaster around Australia. In her capacity as Minister for Emergency Management and National Recovery she says the resilience funding "will target projects including seawalls, storm surge and tidal barrages in estuaries, as well as nature-based solutions, such as protecting coastal wetland ecosystems, to reduce risk of inundation and shoreline erosion." The announcement comes on the heels of the Labor Leader, Anthony Albanese, saying Morrison government was failing on preventative measures such as flood levees, sea walls and fire breaks “Three years after it was announced, the Emergency Relief Fund has not spent a cent on disaster recovery and has not completed a single disaster prevention project. The only thing it has done is earn the government over $750m in investment returns.” He said on January 12th 2022 that Labor would add $200 million to Australia’s natural disaster relief kitty annually if it won the election saying the new funds would come from the interest earned on the Coalition’s Emergency Response Fund. It is of little surprise that the announcement today of an increase in spending from a fund that remains unspent was seen as tat-for-tat politics as the Federal election approaches and the local Liberal candidate needs as much help as he can given the overwhelming result of the Bega by-election. When asked by Surfside residents attending if the money might help them the response from a liberal candidate that was present for the photo shoot was that the money might help to build a seawall once the Council purchases the affected land. Mayor Mat Hatcher was invited to attend the foreshore event. He attended in his capacity as Mayor of Eurobodalla to show his support and to recognise the commitment and dedication of the Recovery Support Officers in the National Recovery and Resilience Agency who have provided support to local residents affected by bushfires and flooding. Given that the Senator's announcement made no mention of the Eurobodalla and given that the Mayor was not invited to speak those watching on were of the opinion that the announcement could have been made anywhere on the Australian coastline from Broome to Mallacoota. With SKY TV present, and no independent local media invited, it is suspected this was purely a photo opportunity to show National Party endorsement of a Liberal candidate in an upcoming election. This time the Liberal candidate was not invited to speak, possibly because of the Surfside residents and local oyster growers in the crowd ready to leap on his comments.

Above: l to r - Eurobodalla Mayor, Mat Hatcher, Bryan Smyth Recovery Support Officer in the National Recovery and Resilience Agency, Senator The Hon. Bridget McKenzie and Marea Stefek, Recovery Support Officer in the National Recovery and Resilience Agency. For details on the program visit the National Recovery and Resilience Agency website. Photo: Twitter of Senator The Hon. Bridget McKenzie

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