Local Government NSW (LGNSW) welcomes an initial $60 million in Australian government funding for 42 of the most severely bushfire affected local government areas, 33 of which are in NSW.
LGNSW President Cr Linda Scott the worst affected NSW councils would receive $33 million almost immediately which was a great relief as many had already begun the enormous clean-up.
“Minister for Local Government Shelley Hancock’s guarantee that the NSW Government will distribute funds within one business day after it clears the State’s bank account is greatly appreciated,” Cr Scott said.
“The immediate release of $1 million to each severely-affected council is crucial, as is the promise of further funds, thanks to cooperation between National Bushfire Recovery Coordinator Andrew Colvin APM OAM, the NSW government and local councils.
“Councils are most grateful these funds are free of red-tape and conditions so they can start to rebuild their communities.
“The local government sector looks forward to working with Mr Colvin, who is leading the National Bushfire Recovery Agency’s administration of $2 billion over two years via a national bushfire recovery fund.
“This funding is essential for councils to rebuild infrastructure, including roads, bridges and community facilities.
“They will also be able to employ additional staff, including skilled labour, to help coordinate and expedite the building effort.”
Cr Scott was heartened that Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Minister for Natural Disaster David Littleproud considered it important to invest in new infrastructure.
“Councils will be able to use the relief funding to ‘build back better’, something the local government sector has advocated for some time,” Cr Scott said.
LGNSW is a member of the newly created NSW Local Government Bushfire Recovery Support Group, which is collecting and coordinating offers of assistance from non-affected councils and directing them to the Office of Emergency Management. Offers will be matched to council areas where support is needed, when it is needed.
Councils across NSW have already swung into action to help bushfire affected councils with logistics and communications, clearing trees and debris, waste services, planning, engineering and infrastructure support.
“The enormity of the recovery task ahead is made faster and easier when local, state and federal governments pull together as we are now, to support bushfire-affected councils and their communities,” Cr Scott said.