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Federal and State governments commit to bushfire relief

Money and resources – both Federal and State – will soon begin pouring into the worst of the fire-ravaged areas of Victoria and New South Wales. Federally, the Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a $2bn bushfire recovery fund with rebuilding communities the top priority. Source: Timberbiz

The fund, to be administered by the National Bushfire Recovery Agency, will be headed up by former Australian Federal Police boss Andrew Colvin.

The agency has already commenced work with states and territories impacted by fires and funding will flow immediately to assist as needed with rebuilding infrastructure, income assistance and mental health support.

The fund will not be distributed on the basis of match funding from the States and territories.

“The states and territories, I have no doubt, will be making significant financial commitments in their areas of responsibility on infrastructure, roads, bridges, schools and hospitals an all these things,” Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said.

The Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries Senator Jonathon Duniam said that the bushfires had wreaked untold havoc on communities.

“I have been in touch with many in our forest industry in affected areas to assure them that we are monitoring this situation closely and working with industry to ensure that we have the right settings in place to deal with the future of this industry once the fires are put out,” Senator Duniam said.

“My message to forest industry participants and supporters is: we stand with you and we are ready to work with you on ensuring that forestry continues to have a bright future, creates jobs and supports regional communities across this nation.”

In New South Wales the current fire situation is significant and once the fires are contained, Forestry Corporation will work to get a complete picture of the impact across various ages of tree stands.

“We are committed to working with the local timber industry on recovery plans and salvaging the burnt logs across the plantations as soon as possible,” a Forestry Corp spokesperson said.

“These fires are large, their impact great and the recovery for local industry will be challenging.

“But timber is a vital product and we will work with the local mills to help ensure timber is available for the NSW community to re-build after the fires and that the local timber industry has supply into the future.”

In Victoria a new permanent dedicated agency will work directly with local communities hit by the bushfires.

The new Bushfire Recovery Victoria will be wholly focused on the needs of Victorian communities, working closely with locals to ensure that rehabilitation projects are both locally-driven and locally-delivered.

The work of BRV will be permanent and ongoing. That includes a commitment to supporting any Victorian communities impacted by future bushfires and will begin straight away.

The effort will extend across a range of priorities from the immediate clean-up and ensuring the health and wellbeing of residents and farmers, to longer-term work to help local communities and local economies get back on their feet.

In line with this commitment, Community Recovery Committees will be established to ensure locals have a voice throughout this process, while local jobs and expertise will be prioritised wherever possible.

The agency will also be responsible for advising the Victorian Government on the coordination of efforts and the development of an overarching plan for the restoration and recovery of communities across our state.

Bringing a wealth of experience, former Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police Ken Lay will serve as BRV’s Chair, with Lee Miezis, Deputy Secretary at the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, offering extensive knowledge on fire and emergency management including the recovery at Wye River, to serve as CEO.

The new agency will sit within the Department of Premier and Cabinet to ensure whole-of-government coordination, and report directly to the Premier.