Wednesday, 26 February 2020
Australian Bushfires: Rural and Regional Australia
Bushfire recovery is a most difficult area for people who have been affected by bushfires. It takes a long time, and it costs a lot of money. There's a report this morning that the bushfire recovery will cost in excess of $100 billion. When you equate that out to the farms, the communities, the homes and the businesses that have been affected, you can understand how that amount of money needs to rebuild those destroyed by fire. You can be very strong in your rebuilding, but a lot of people will take a long time to rebuild.
This time last year I was standing on top of the hill behind my property. I was watching where two lightning strikes had started two fires in two valleys, which the member for Kennedy would understand, and those fires eventually converged into one fire, ripping right through the north of Nar Nar Goon and Bunyip forests. It destroyed everything in its path—all the homes, farms, businesses, people's retirement living, tree huggers, the whole lot. Everybody was devastated. You didn't hear as much about that fire, which as equally as damaging to that area, as you heard about the recent fires in New South Wales and Queensland, all the way through to eastern Victoria and southern New South Wales. But, for that community, it was exactly the same devastation.
These days on farm, we don't have the same steel fittings we once had. They're all plastic. It takes years to get out there, dig another hole and put new plastic fittings into all your troughs. This is ongoing now. That was 12 months ago. What we've done is made some changes to the way services are delivered, with the federal government and the state government working closely together, to the victims that have gone through this bushfire period. Some, though, that have gone through bushfires prior to that are not getting the same benefit. I'm now working with the government, step by step. The member for Hunter will know very well how hard it is in rural communities to work through these issues and how important they are.
There is the building up of stock—especially the loss of breeding stock. In one fell swoop, you have lost your dogs that help run the farm. So we're working through it. It costs a lot of money, but I've just been told also that the virus that's now crisscrossing across the world is going to cost a lot more. Australia is in a very, very difficult position. We've got to be with our community and lead our community our community as we work through this difficult time.