Prime Minister Julia Gillard and NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell today announced natural disaster assistance in 37 Local Government Areas in NSW affected by bushfires.
“Yesterday across the state we faced extreme bushfire conditions and the threat remains with more than 130 fires still burning,” Mr O’Farrell said.
“Thankfully there has been no loss of life or large scale loss of houses, however the bushfires have had a devastating effect on livestock and farmland.”
Today the NSW Government announced Natural Disaster Declarations in the following 37 Local Government Areas, which will now lead to joint Commonwealth-state funded disaster assistance becoming available for these communities;
- Goulburn Mulwaree
- Greater Hume
- Snowy River
- Upper Lachlan
- Wagga Wagga
- Yass Valley
More Local Government Areas may be declared in coming days as further assessments are completed.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard said that recovering from disasters is not just a local effort, but one that reaches nationwide and that this joint Federal-State funding will make a real difference to affected communities as they bounce back from these events.
A range of assistance grants are in the process of being made available:
- disaster relief grants to eligible individuals and families whose homes and essential household items have been destroyed or damaged are available
- transport freight subsidies of up to 50 per cent on the carriage of livestock and fodder are available to help primary producers to a maximum of $15,000 per annum
- loans of up to $130,000 are also available (subject to certain eligibility criteria), at a concessional interest rate, for primary producers and small businesses in urgent need.
- grants are also available to councils to help them
- meet the additional costs of emergency work to restore essential services
- a special scheme is available to assist sporting clubs in meeting the costs of restoration of essential club facilities that have been damaged or destroyed
Noting this is a very difficult time for many NSW residents, the Prime Minister said these payments will assist individuals and families to get back on their feet.
Mr O’Farrell said a range of assistance measures will be available, including grants for eligible individuals and families whose homes and essential household items have been destroyed or damaged.
“I want those affected by these bushfires to know that help is there for them as they recover from this natural disaster,” Mr O’Farrell said.
“One of the heartbreaking outcomes of the bushfires has been the loss of about 10,000 sheep.
“For our state’s farmers that represents a financial loss of about $1 million.
“There has also been significant damage to pastures, crops and fencing on rural properties across NSW.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank our emergency services personnel for their hard work and professionalism during this crisis – particularly the volunteers.
“These brave men and women have done an extraordinary job in the toughest of conditions.
“While most employers do the right thing – I want those who volunteered during this emergency to know employment protection provisions are in place to ensure they cannot be penalised by their employer for missing work,” Mr O’Farrell said.
This declaration triggers a number of disaster assistance schemes to assist with the cost of disaster relief and recovery. These disaster assistance schemes are made available by the NSW Government through the NSW Disaster Assistance Arrangements and they are supported by the Commonwealth Government through the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements.