The Blue Mountains area has not received any of the NSW State Government’s $177 million disaster recovery fund following the Black Summer Bushfires, despite being one of the hardest hit areas in the state.
According to an exclusive report by The Guardian, despite the Blue Mountains City Council submitting 24 proposals to the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund, totalling $5.45 million, none of these were selected by the government, leaving the area without a cent in economic relief 12 months after the fires.
The Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund is jointly supported by the state and federal government and is designed to aid the local economic and social recovery of areas affected by bushfire, through direct assistance or the funding of community-driven projects.
According to the NSW Government website, the recovery fund ‘will support projects that retain and create new jobs in regional areas, build resilience and increase preparedness for future bushfire seasons.’
Included in the proposals submitted by the Blue Mountains City Council were; $400,000 to create a local link road strategy for towns affected by bushfire, $100,000 for a business outreach officer to support recovery of the local economy, and $40,000 towards post-fire environmental management at Mt Wilson.
In a report by Michael West Media, it was revealed that $175 million of the $177 million of funding was allocated to projects within Liberal-held seats, leaving just 1.1% of funds to those in Labor-held seats, with Greens-held seats, not seeing any funding at all.
Of the 71 proposals that have been granted funding, $2 million will go to Goulburn to extend a walking track by the Wollondilly River, $10 million to the Visy owned Tumut Mill, and $11 million to build a Macleay Valley Skydiving Adventure Park.
The Blue Mountains was arguably one of the hardest hit regions in the state during the Black Summer Bushfires, with at least 80% of the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area burned.
The Guardian spoke to Blue Mountains Mayor, Mark Greenhill, who expressed his ‘deep disappointment’ and confusion in the lack of financial aid for the area.
‘I can’t get my head around the fact that the most bushfire-prone city in New South Wales according to the insurance industry, the Blue Mountains, that is unlike a lot of other areas that have a lot of other industries, we have one, tourism, which was completely squashed by the fires…How on earth did we not get one project up out of that prospectus? Not one?’
There are still additional rounds of funding to be announced and Greenhill is calling on the state government to use this opportunity to amend their disregard for the Blue Mountains area.
Greens MP David Shoebridge plans to lead an inquiry into the alleged pork-barrelling of the disaster relief funds.
Feature photo by Liam Oakwood