Thursday, 3 September 2020
Questions without Notice
Eden-Monaro Electorate: Natural Disasters
My question is to the Prime Minister. My community has been hit hard by drought, by bushfire, by floods and now by COVID. Why did the Prime Minister fail to spend a single cent from an annual $200 million recovery and mitigation fund last financial year for my bushfire affected community?
I thank the member for her question. I commend her on her first speech in this place and her first question here in this place and, of course, on her election to this parliament.
What I can confirm to the member is the support provided in the Eden-Monaro electorate across the various programs that the government has run to support people through this bushfire crisis in Bega Valley, Eurobodalla, Queanbeyan-Palerang, Snowy Monaro and Snowy Valleys, whether it's through the primary producer grants—through which there have been commitments of over $9 million to the Bega Valley area, over $5 million to Eurobodalla, in the Queanbeyan-Palerang area over $2.3 million, for Snowy Monaro $2.8 million and for Snowy Valleys some $17 million—or, importantly, the small business recovery grants, which the member will be very familiar with. With those small business recovery grants, there are 236 recipients approved for that program in Bega Valley, and that's some $6.2 million of support; in Eurobodalla, some $8.6 million of support; in Queanbeyan-Palerang, $604,000; in Snowy Monaro $739,000; in Snowy—
On direct relevance, Mr Speaker. The Prime Minister acknowledged at the start of the answer it being the first question from the member. It asks about a specific fund, and the Prime Minister's yet to refer to that fund.
The Prime Minister's obviously giving some context, but I do take the point of order. But I think he's been entitled to say what he's said up until now. Then he needs to either bring himself to the substance of the question or start to wind up. The Prime Minister has the call.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. The minister will add further to my answer. Whether it's on the concessional loans, the disaster recovery payment or the disaster recovery allowance right across Australia, but particularly in the member's electorate, the government has been swift to provide this support. I ask the minister to add to my answer.
I thank the member for her question and her leadership of her community as the local mayor.
The ERF is a $200 million dividend that will be paid each year, when required. There are two tranches of that. There's $150 million for extraordinary recovery payments. That will not be used, because we have put in over $2 billion in terms of recovery. The advice that I got from the director-general of Emergency Management Australia was that, with the programs that we put in in response to the fires—that $2 billion plus—there is no need to spend that $150 million.
There's $50 million set aside for preparedness. Emergency Management Australia will be going out to the community in the coming weeks and talking to the community around preparedness—making sure that we build back better. Your community and those communities that are affected right around the country will have the opportunity to invest and take advantage of that $50 million. We will continue to use every means possible in working with those communities and state governments, to be able to partner with us. That's why it's been an approach not Canberra led but locally led, and we are working with state governments to make sure that $200 million will again be available next financial year if it is required. It will continue to be used, and we will continue to make sure that the $2 billion—of which we have got $1.7 billion out, and we thought we'd only get $500 million out by 30 June—is well ahead of budget. There are results that are being seen on the ground today.