Residents of the devastated fire affected area of the South East of NSW have discovered that their bushfire impacted communities have been left out of this week’s regional investment package announced by the Deputy Prime Minister.
Michael McCormack yesterday announced $100 million for Regional Recovery Partnerships to drive recovery across 10 selected regions over the next two years.
Federal Member for Eden Monaro, Kristy McBain said "While I am happy to see the Snowy Mountains included, the Bega Valley, Eurobodalla and Snowy Valleys all appear to have missed out.Residents in these hard-hit communities are shaking their head."
"It is extraordinary to think that towns like Batlow, Cobargo, Kiah, and Nerrigundah aren’t eligible for this funding boost.We need our fair share; this just feels like the government is picking favourites again." For those in Eden Monaro and in Gilmore it is glaringly obvious that both are Labor held seats and that it appears to the community hearing of the announcement that there is petty politics at play. Adding further insult to the issue the Deputy Prime Minister said that the 10 regions had been chosen because “they are regions whose economies have experienced the brunt of natural events such as bushfires, or COVID-19, drought as well.” Ms McBain said "Eden-Monaro bore the brunt of the Black Summer bushfires. The Morrison Government must explain to our bushfire ravaged communities why they are missing out on this much-needed support.
"Labor wants to back the regions to grow and succeed, that means investing in roads, rail and infrastructure across the nation. Instead, this announcement shows the Morrison Government is once again picking favourites and leaving regions across Australia behind." Fiona Phillips, Federal Member for Gilmore said of the announcement: "Seriously, what is Scott Morrison on? In one of the most disgraceful,quite frankly disgusting moves, he has left the entire NSW south coast out of the new Regional Recovery Fund. "The government said 10 regions were chosen because... (wait for it) “they are regions whose economies have experienced the brunt of natural events such as bushfires, or COVID-19, drought as well”. Well, aloha , clearly he doesn’t know the NSW South Coast! How out of touch can he be?" "I will not stop fighting for people on the NSW South Coast. There is no way he’s getting away with this."
Fiona Phillips attended the official opening of the “Postcards from the Fire” exhibition at Gallery Mogo saying "What a powerful and truly moving exhibition. 200 postcards of pics by the South Coast community reflecting the feeling and images of the 2019/2020 bushfire season." The Member for Gilmore said "After being hard hit by drought, bushfires, floods and COVID-19 this year, it is vital that the South Coast receives targeted support in the Federal budget. However, this week's government newly announced regional recovery fund that appears to exclude the South Coast.
“We need dollars hitting the ground locally now. So far, too much of what we have seen from the government are flashy announcements and false promises,” Fiona Phillips warned.
“The government’s regional recovery fund will supposedly target regions suffering from drought, bushfires and the pandemic – so I was flabbergasted that this does not appear to include the South Coast,” she said.
The Member for Gilmore said the government needed to forget the pork barrelling and get serious about recovery by focusing on five key priority areas in this year’s budget:
Roads – including bringing forward more funding for the Princes Highway projects such as the Milton-Ulladulla Bypass and the Jervis Bay Road intersection, as well as local roads such as Currarong Road, the East Arterial Road and roads impacted by this year’s natural disasters.
Health services – including investment in acute mental health services at the new Eurobodalla Hospital and the Shoalhaven District Memorial Hospital redevelopment.
Supporting vulnerable locals – including investment in affordable housing projects such as in Bomaderry, supporting local community services doing it tough and reversing cuts to JobSeeker and JobKeeper.
Tourism support – including targeted support for travel agents and the events industry, as well as local projects such as the Mogo Adventure Trail Hub and the Kiama Arts Precinct.
Bushfire preparedness – including a new Regional Integrated Emergency Services Precinct in Moruya, bushfire proofing local evacuation centres and community halls, fixing mobile black spots along the Princes Highway and making sure telecommunications and electricity services are disaster-proof.
“Targeted investment in these areas will be key to getting our community back on our feet and ensuring our social and economic recovery is not delayed,” Mrs Phillips said.
“I am asking the government to end the flashy announcements and make sure we get support now. I don’t want to see our community left behind,” she concluded.