Federal Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce, has issued an urgent call to arms from the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to assist with repairs to the Armidale-Kempsey Road.
It follows recent storms and heavy rain in the area which has caused extensive damage to large sections of roadway and made access virtually impossible for local residents.
At the request of Armidale Regional Council, Mr Joyce this week penned a letter to Minister for Defence, Linda Reynolds, requesting ADF assistance with the immediate clean up and repair of the road.
“Recent bushfires and subsequent loss of vegetation, followed by storms and heavy rain, have caused a number of major landslides along this road recently and severely restricted access,” Mr Joyce said.
“As this is a major east-west link between Armidale and the coast, the loss of road access is causing much disruption for local residents especially during this busy time for stock transport as landholders look to restock during a reprieve from drought.
“That’s why I’ve asked for ADF assistance to help with the huge task now at hand of clearing and repairing the widespread damage caused by these landslips.”
Mr Joyce has also written to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack, and is currently awaiting a reply from both ministers.
The call for ADF aid follows the recent extension of disaster assistance following severe storms to three local government areas in the New England: Tamworth, Armidale and Liverpool Plains.
This assistance is being provided through the jointly funded Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA).
Assistance available under the DRFA may include:
• help for eligible people whose homes or belongings have been damaged
• support for affected local councils to help with the costs of cleaning up and restoring damaged essential public assets
• concessional interest rate loans for small businesses, primary producers and non-profit organisations
• freight subsidies for primary producers, and
• grants to eligible non-profit organisations.
If you are uninsured and have low income, for information on personal hardship and distress assistance, please contact the Disaster Welfare Assistance Line on 1800 018 444. To apply for a concessional loan, contact the NSW Rural Assistance Authority on 1800 678 593 or visit www.raa.nsw.gov.au