House debates

Monday, 24 February 2020

Constituency Statements

Eden-Monaro Electorate: Australian Bushfires

10:36 am

Photo of Mike KellyMike Kelly (Eden-Monaro, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Defence) Share this | | Hansard source

We have seen a bit of an easing of conditions across New South Wales lately, but I want to reassure this chamber, this building, that I intend to keep the feet to the fire, so to speak, on the recovery effort that is proceeding now. We still have fire issues in Eden-Monaro. If you look on the Fires Near Me NSW app, you will see that unfortunately we still have problems which we will probably be dealing with through to May at this rate. We have a big job ahead of us for this recovery, and it will take several years.

Last Thursday I was down at Bemboka at the Colombo Park site, where the Rapid Relief Team were coming in. Ron Arkcoll and his crew are doing a fantastic job of getting fighters coming over from Western Australia and out to our farmers in the area. I saw how that was putting a smile on the dial of our farmers, who really feel reassured that people care about their situation. Getting that fighter resource is an enormous help to them. At the same time they set up a barbecue on site where people could socialise and share their burdens. They're really performing a wonderful service to that community. A big shout-out to the Rapid Relief Team, Ron Arkcoll and the crew. It's really great to see them in the community and doing this sort of stuff across our landscape.

Getting feedback and sitting down with the farmers there, it's clear they are not happy with the support packages so far. They are just not seeming to be able to navigate those processes, and none of them could tell me of any farmer who had had success in applying for anything so far. We really do have to have a good, close look at the process, and refine it and streamline it.

On Saturday I was at Tumbafest over in Tumbarumba. This is the first activity the community has been able to mount post-bushfire. There was a good debate about whether or not it could even go ahead, but it did. It was wonderful to see the response of the community; we'd been calling for them to turn out to these events, and they did come out in numbers. I was wonderful to see. Kate Ceberano was there, and she was responding to the calls of the community to assist in donating money. It was a wonderful day, and wonderful to see the community being resilient, reviving and staging that activity.

I have to say again that we need better support for the festivals in our region. The $30,000 that is being issued per local government area is simply not enough to support these festivals and activities, and we desperately need that to fill in the gaps between now and next summer. A good example is the Narooma Oyster Festival, which would only get a tiny portion of the $30,000 across the whole of the Eurobodalla Shire for its specific activity; they really need $85,000. So that money would best go direct to the Narooma Oyster Festival if we really wanted to make sure that money arrived quickly enough that those events could go ahead successfully.