Local bushfire recovery funding welcome
Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie has cautiously welcomed today's Commonwealth announcement of $448.5 million for local economic recovery plans for bushfire-affected communities.
"Our fire-affected communities in the Hills and on Kangaroo Island have taken two extremely hard hits to their local economies with the bushfires and then the COVID-19 restrictions so this funding announcement is welcome news," Rebekha said.
"But in light of the bureacracy and challenges in interpreting the eligibility criteria that has plagued previous announcements of emergency funding, I hope this Regional Bushfire Recovery and Development Program delivers the funding to where it is needed as efficiently as possible.
"As the Prime Minister stated, every community is different, every community is at a different point in their recovery and each community has it own focus on what projects are needed to kickstart their local economy.
"Some parts of our bushfire-affected areas are still waiting for clean-up while other localities are pushing to move forward.
"I know winemakers in the Adelaide Hills are discussing the possibility of a dedicated regional wine centre for tourism information and industry support.
"Over on the Island the Penneshaw desalination plant is a project being touted as one that can secure future water supplies for KI.
"I have been in constant contact with local recovery groups and local government to discuss their needs on the ground."
The $448.5 million is part of a new $650m Federal Government package announced under the $2 billion Bushfire Recovery Fund.
The $650 million package also includes:
- Forestry Transport Assistance ($15 million)
- Community Wellbeing and Participation ($13.5 million)
- Bushfire Recovery for Species and Landscapes ($149.7 million)
- Telecommunications Emergency Resilience ($27.1 million as well as $10 million from the mobile blackspots program).
"Our bushfire-affected communities and environmental groups in Mayo will be looking to secure some of the $149.7 million set aside for habitat regeneration and waterway and catchment restoration, especially in the devastated habitats on KI," Rebekha said.
"I am concerned that South Australia has not been included in the $15 million set aside to assist the forestry industry with the increased costs of transporting burned salvaged logs which effectively excludes Kangaroo Island - but I am seeking more information regarding that part of the package.
"I know our community will definitely welcome the $27 million set aside for telecommunications emergency resilience and strengthening telecommunications capabilities.
"Poor to non-existent communications due to mobile network congestion, burnt mobile and copper infrastructure and existing blackspot issues have been key concerns raised with my office and local government authorities."