House debates

Monday, 9 November 2020

Questions without Notice

Australian Bushfires

2:48 pm

Photo of Kristy McBainKristy McBain (Eden-Monaro, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Prime Minister. Can I draw your attention back to bushfires. Last year the Morrison government announced an annual $200 million recovery and mitigation fund to help communities prepare for and recover from natural disasters. Can the Prime Minister confirm not a single dollar was spent from this fund in the last financial year and still not a single dollar has been spent from this fund in this financial year, despite Australia already entering the fire season? Why does this Prime Minister not deliver on his photo ops?

2:49 pm

Photo of Scott MorrisonScott Morrison (Cook, Liberal Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

I'll ask the minister to add further to this answer. One of the arrangements for that fund is that, when there are other funds that are available to be acquitted for those purposes, then those funds are the funds that are done first. That's why we established the $2 billion National Bushfire Recovery Fund, of which more than a billion dollars has been applied to the purposes the member has asked. When you're responding to a crisis, the only thing that matters is that people are getting the support that is needed. They don't look to see what envelope it comes in. What they want is what this government has delivered, and that has been the case through the drought, through the floods, through the fires, through the pandemic. On every single occasion, this government has responded in a way we have not seen from governments in a very, very long time—delivering on the ground, delivering what was needed, to see people through. That may not be convenient for the political objectives of those opposite, but the reality on the ground is that Australians know we have their back. I will ask the minister to complete the answer.

2:50 pm

Photo of David LittleproudDavid Littleproud (Maranoa, National Party, Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management) Share this | | Hansard source

The Prime Minister is correct. As part of the legislation—and it should be no surprise to those opposite; they voted for it—within the $200 million there is $150 million that can be used to rebuild after a catastrophic event. That can be used only after other mechanisms have been exhausted; hence the $2 billion in immediate recovery that has been put forward for bushfire recovery. The department has given advice that that should not be utilised, because there is $2 billion available. The $150 million will not be utilised.

Those opposite in fact voted for that piece of legislation. Either they did not read the legislation when they voted for it or they are playing politics rather than looking after the people who deserve it. There is $50 million of that $200 million that can be utilised for building resilience. There in fact have been applications made by a wide range of communities that are being assessed by Emergency Management Australia as we speak. It is for them to determine what those projects should be, and we invited all members, no matter their political persuasion, to put forward those programs. But this forms part of the very piece of legislation that those opposite supported yet obviously did not read the detail of, and now they are upset about the fact that they didn't understand how this would be utilised and do not acknowledge that this government has put over $2 billion towards the bushfire recovery alone.