Discrepancy between federal bushfire funding eligibility and allocation is causing frustration in neglected communities in Eden-Monaro, according to Labor MP Kristy McBain.
The federal member for the bushfire-affected region is now calling on the Morrison Government to explain why parts of her electorate missed out on financial support.
Ms McBain said “hard-hit communities” in Eden-Monaro, including Bega Valley, Eurobodalla and Snowy Valleys are “shaking their heads” after Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack’s announcement of $100 million in bushfire funding on Thursday, 1 October.
The announcement included the Snowy Mountains but missed the neighbouring areas that were also affected by the Black Summer bushfires.
“It is extraordinary to think that towns such as Batlow, Cobargo, Kiah and Nerrigundah aren’t eligible for this funding boost,” said Ms McBain.
“We need our fair share. This just feels like the government is picking favourites again.”
The regions supported under the Regional Recovery Partnerships program announcement also include the Hunter Valley; Newcastle; Parkes; Cairns and Tropical North Queensland; Gladstone; the Mackay Isaac Whitsunday region; Tasmania; Gippsland; Kangaroo Island and Western Australia’s South West region.
NSW Senator Jim Molan said these are regions that had “borne the brunt of COVID-19 as well as drought and the past summer’s bushfires”.
“The Snowy region has been significantly affected by the Black Summer bushfires and COVID-19, and today’s announcement will be welcomed throughout the community as the Snowy region is primed to build on these opportunities and diversify its economy,” said Senator Molan.
“This additional funding shows the Morrison-McCormack Government’s commitment to developing a package of targeted initiatives to deliver jobs, economic recovery and economic diversification to ensure we emerge from these unprecedented times in the best shape possible.”
However, Ms McBain said her whole electorate “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,” she said.
The $100 million will be rolled out to the 10 regions during the next two years. As part of the package, $30 million will be allocated to improve regional connectivity. Another $5 million will fund the new Building Resilient Regional Leaders Initiative to support current and emerging leaders to further develop their leadership skills.
“These measures are all part of our economic plan for a more secure and resilient Australia, helping the regions bounce back and then thrive to drive Australia’s economic recovery,” said Deputy Prime Minister McCormack.
“I’m excited by our regions, excited by their prospects, excited about what we are all – together – doing to overcome the challenges of today and build a better tomorrow.”