• Tony Bosworth

Budget money siphoned off Mobile Black Spots Program not good news for Hawkesbury - MP claims

Macquarie MP Susan Templeman has been through the Federal Government’s budget papers and is scathing about gaps in funding she says will directly impact the Hawkesbury.

Macquarie MP Susan Templeman has been through the Budget papers

“I was disturbed to read that money set aside under the National Bushfire Recovery Fund to help strengthen communications during natural disasters was partially funded by redirecting $10 million from the Mobile Black Spots Program.

“There is a dire need for improved communications in so many parts of the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury, and not just during an emergency – places like Mount Tomah, Bowen Mountain, Grose Vale, Mount Wilson, Colo, the Macdonald Valley, the list goes on. Money should not be funnelled out of this program to prop up another one; it shouldn’t be an either-or situation.

“I would have expected to see additional funding for Mobile Black Spots. We’re already waiting for the mobile tower promised for Mount Tomah in 2013, which was last year reallocated by the NSW and Federal Liberal Governments to be moved to Gollan, near Dubbo, leaving Mt Tomah and Mt Wilson without improved signal.

“Of course last summer, six homes burned to the ground on one road in Mount Tomah.”

The MP says she will also continue to fight for people living around RAAF Richmond who may have been affected by the PFAS contamination issue because the local airfield seems to have been left out of settlement action.

“The Budget included the settlement of three Federal Court of Australia class actions regarding PFAS contamination at Williamtown, Oakey and Katherine for an undisclosed amount (due to legal sensitivities).

“I welcomed the in-principle agreement reached in the class action earlier this year, but I am once again calling on the Federal Government to take steps towards addressing the concerns of those living around Richmond RAAF Base. I will continue to push for a fair deal for locals who have also been affected by this issue, to ensure they are not left out.

“While I was glad to see the government agree to Labor’s calls to increase mental health visits under Medicare from 10 to 20 for all areas, to provide more support that will help some local businesses invest or take on new workers, and for additional funding for local roads and road safety, it feels that this is a lost opportunity Budget,” Ms Templeman said.

Ms Templeman believes people trying to rebuild from the fires will also be disappointed there had been no change to the December 31 deadline for the HomeBuilder program, “making it really hard for most people who lost their homes to access $25,000 to help them rebuild”, she said.

“We’ve been calling for an extension to the program for bushfire survivors for months, but it seems the Morrison Government wants to keep it just for people doing renovations worth up to $750,000, or those building new homes without losing the old one to bushfire.

“It’s also disappointing that Katoomba’s part-time Headspace appears to have missed out on an upgrade to a full service, and the Hawkesbury looks to be completely left off the list for a Headspace yet again.

“It’s devastating for our local travel agents to see no sector-specific support for one of the industries that needs it most.”

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