Bushfire-hit communities in the Towong Local Government area will be able to rebuild vital infrastructure sooner with an initial and immediate $1 million grant from the Liberal and Nationals Government.
Nationals Senator for Victoria and Minister for Agriculture Bridget McKenzie said Towong Council would be able to choose the best way to use the money to help its community recover.
“This means locals can get out and rebuild what’s important to people in the Towong LGA,” Minister McKenzie said.
“This could go into rebuilding or improving roads and other community infrastructure. It can also go to hiring staff to help with the recovery, or staging local events to attract more tourists and business to the Upper Murray.
“This will help get the local economy moving which will help speed up recovery in the Towong area.”
The neighbouring Snowy Valleys Shire in NSW is also eligible for an initial and immediate $1 million grant.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the government was committed to working hand in hand with regional communities to rebuild towns and villages.
“These payments will provide immediate assistance directly into the hands of local councils to rebuild roads and infrastructure, employ staff to help in recovery activities and hold events which bring the community together and bring tourists back to town,” the Prime Minister said.
“We are moving immediately to support local councils and our funding will be in state government bank accounts by tomorrow. Importantly this is a base payment and just the start of our support for local communities, in what we know will be a long recovery.”
Funding will be directed to councils which have been ‘activated’ by their respective state government for Category C bushfire disaster recovery relief under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA). Payments will not require matched funding from state governments.
Minister for Natural Disaster and Emergency Management David Littleproud said the focus would be on supporting local communities.
“I’ve made it clear this won’t be a Canberra led recovery, it’ll be a locally led recovery and this is our first instalment in that process.
“We’re empowering local governments to be part of that process today. We’re committed to rebuilding communities but also the lives of those impacted by these devastating fires,” Minister Littleproud said.
Funds will be drawn from the $2 billion allocated to the National Bushfire Recovery Agency and this is in addition to funding that is automatically available to councils through other disaster recovery arrangements.
The lump sum payments will be delivered by the Commonwealth by the close of business tomorrow to State Governments who administer payments to councils.
The only condition placed on councils is that they develop a Program of Works within three months and report back to the Commonwealth in 12 months’ time.
Councils will be able to spend their $1 million payments on projects and activities that they deem essential for the recovery and renewal of their communities, including:
• Rebuilding damaged or destroyed council assets such as key local roads, bridges, and community facilities;
• Employing additional local staff to take on specialist recovery or planning roles to help coordinate and plan the rebuilding effort;
• Hosting new public activities and events to bring communities together and attract visitors back to affected regions; and
• Immediate maintenance and repairs to relief and evacuation centres.