Deputy Prime Minister and Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce, Minister for Law Enforcement and Cybersecurity Angus Taylor and New South Wales Minister for Emergency Services Troy Grant, announced disaster assistance is available in response to bushfires that affected regional NSW from late September 2017 onwards, including in the Upper Hunter.
Mr Joyce said the assistance is being provided through the jointly-funded Commonwealth-State Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA) and will directly support those in the Upper Hunter affected by the Mount Helen fire which burnt more than 1,311 hectares of private land and threatened rural properties and communications infrastructure.
“We’ve seen the devastation these fires cause and the effect they have on farming operations,” Mr Joyce said.
“Just recently we’ve had more fires further north at Bundarra and the Pilliga, so it is an ongoing threat.
“This latest funding will help ease the burden for these residents in the Upper Hunter.”
Mr Taylor said the assistance will also support communities in the Mid Coast, Port Macquarie-Hastings, Dungog local government areas affected by recent bushfires.
"This funding demonstrates the ongoing commitment of the Australian and NSW governments to support communities affected by bushfires," Mr Taylor said.
“In this case, assistance is in the wake of bushfires including the Belbora, Innes View, Chichester Dam, Main Creek Road and Mount Helen fires, which combined destroyed thousands of hectares of land and several homes and buildings.”
Mr Grant said the assistance would help cover the cost of fighting the bushfires and ensure affected councils could repair damage to essential public infrastructure.
“Five bushfires hit four neighbouring areas at the same time, early in the season. We want to ensure these communities get back on their feet,” Mr Grant said.
“This assistance will help the Mid Coast, Dungog, Port Macquarie-Hastings and Upper Hunter communities rebuild and repair their local infrastructure.”
The Belbora fire – Mid Coast LGA – burnt more than 1,703 hectares mostly in privately held land. The fire threatened rural properties and destroyed a number of outbuildings and storage facilities.
The Innes View fire – Port Macquarie-Hastings LGA – burnt more than 1,780 hectares mostly in privately held land. The fire threatened rural properties, destroyed two homes, numerous outbuildings and forced road closures.
The Chichester Dam fire – Dungog LGA – burnt more than 858 hectares, including 249 hectares of private land and threatened rural properties and water catchments.
The Main Creek Road fire – Dungog LGA – burnt more than 32 hectares of private land and threatened rural properties.
Assistance available under the NDRRA 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.
Further information on disaster assistance is available on the Australian Government’s Disaster Assist website disasterassist.gov.au and the NSW emergency information and response website at emergency.nsw.gov.au.