Barnaby Joyce

Program to assist New England bushfire recovery

11 May 2020

A $448.5 million Regional Bushfire Recovery and Development Program will provide the New England with the additional funding and expertise to revive its economy following the devastating 2019-20 bushfire season.

The program is being funded as part of a broader $650 million package for impacted communities announced by the Federal Coalition Government today. The package is included under the Australian Government’s $2 billion National Bushfire Recovery Fund.

“During the devastating 2019-20 bushfire season, the economic impact to agriculture, tourism and forestry in areas like Armidale and Tenterfield was $34 million and $10 million respectively,” Mr Joyce said.

“It wasn’t much better in other areas like Walcha with a loss of $10 million, Inverell ($8 million), Glen Innes ($7 million), Gwydir and Uralla ($2 million).

“The figures confirm what we already knew – businesses are suffering and you only need to take a walk down our main streets to see the effects of that.

“Already we have delivered millions in drought and bushfire support payments to local government areas across the New England but we are always looking at ways we can do more.

“This program is an opportunity for the community to share ideas and projects with the National Bushfire Recovery Agency through the state government who will work with local governments to roll-out support as quickly as possible. It recognises the importance of New England having a voice in the recovery process.

“This program funding, combined with other measures like getting kids back to school this week, will further support that to help communities and local economies get back on their feet, sooner rather than later.”

Projects and initiatives will be tailored using local knowledge. They could range from initiatives that promote economic activity and support community wellbeing, to projects that focus on the landscape and water, replacing produce and stock, or building future resilience.

Mr Joyce said the funding would support the community to ‘build back better’.

 “Our community will work with the National Bushfire Recovery Agency and state and local partners to provide input on priority projects as soon as possible.”

The $650 million package also includes:

  • $15 million to assist the forestry industry with the increased costs of transporting burned salvaged logs over longer distances to surviving timber mills or storage sites in bushfire affected areas in Victoria and New South Wales.
  • $13.5 million for community wellbeing and participation, backing Primary Health Networks with additional funding to provide critical, localised support for bushfire affected individuals to ensure their emotional and mental wellbeing.
  • $149.7 million for bushfire recovery related to species and landscapes such as habitat regeneration, waterway and catchment restoration including erosion control, weed and pest management.
  • $27.1 million for strengthening telecommunications capabilities before the next bushfire season including the deployment of approximately 2000 satellite phones to rural fire depots and evacuation centres.

Further details are available on the National Bushfire Recovery Agency website at www.bushfirerecovery.gov.au

(ENDS)