Hawkesbury cut out of bushfire preparation funding – “unfathomable” says MP Templeman
Updated: Nov 27
In a somewhat surprising move by the federal government, the Hawkesbury Local Government Area (LGA) is not being given priority for bushfire resilience projects under the new Preparing Australian Communities for Disaster program.
Priority areas get “bushfire preparation funding”.
Macquarie MP Susan Templeman described as “unfathomable” the Morrison Government’s decision to cut the Hawkesbury out of the new funding.
“Despite the horrific trauma of the 2019-20 fires, and the loss of homes, businesses and land in areas like Bilpin, Colo Heights and Macdonald Valley, the Hawkesbury Local Government Area (LGA) is not being given priority for bushfire resilience projects under the new Preparing Australian Communities for Disaster program,” Ms Templeman said.
“The Hawkesbury is the place that gave birth to the Gospers Mountain bushfire - the biggest fire from a single ignition point that we have ever seen - yet that same community is not being given priority to apply for bushfire resilience and preparation funding.
“I have welcomed this program in principle because Labor has been calling for two years for the Emergency Response Fund to be made available to communities who have suffered devastating bushfires and floods - or the threat of them.
“Priority areas will receive an additional 20 points towards their application, meaning many applicants from worthy Hawkesbury bushfire projects will be at a huge disadvantage to access up to $10 million in funding.
“The Hawkesbury is considered a priority for flood funding.
“But you really have to question the genuineness of the Morrison Government’s desire to support fire-affected communities when one whole LGA of 3000 square kilometres – much of which was turned to moonscape by the fires - is not declared a priority.”
Ms Templeman says there’s also the question of timing of the grants process, and how much the government actually wants communities to engage on the issue.
“This grant opens on December 10 and closes on January 6. I don't know what the Prime Minister is doing over that period, but most of our community is trying to take a breath and recover,” Ms Templeman said.
“Giving people more than four weeks to prepare an application over the Christmas and New Year period after the challenging year that’s been isn’t unreasonable."
“I'm urging the government to include the Hawkesbury in the bushfire priority areas and extend the application period. I know they will play silly word games and say the Hawkesbury can still apply for bushfire funding, but the reality is it works on a points system, and our area won’t get any of the extra points to get projects over the line.
“I am here to tell the Morrison Government that if you deny the Hawkesbury out of a fair go in applying for bushfire funding, you are doing our community a disservice and thumbing your nose at an area still reeling from the devastating effects of bushfire – an area that wants to be ready for the next one.
“I want money coming to this region, but this grant round hasn’t properly considered our priorities, allows less than a month over the holidays to apply, and hasn’t been advertised extensively.
“The Morrison Government wants to look like it is doing the right thing for our communities, but it is clearly out of touch,” said the MP.
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