Australian Resources Minister Keith Pitt speaks during House of Representatives Question Time at Parliament House in Canberra, Thursday, February 13, 2020. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch) NO ARCHIVING
Australian Resources Minister Keith Pitt speaks during House of Representatives Question Time at Parliament House in Canberra, Thursday, February 13, 2020. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch) NO ARCHIVING

MP: Tourism recovery grants open for Bundy

BUNDABERG may have missed out on bushfire recovery funding under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements, but may be eligible for a grant through another channel.

The DRFA funding from the Federal Government provided an immediate payment of $1 million to the most severely impacted bushfire councils to help rebuild vital infrastructure.

A spokesman for Bundaberg Regional Council said it was their understanding the funding was being directed to councils which were activated by state governments for Category C funding.

“Under the DRFA 2018, Category C assistance is only made available when the impact of a disaster is severe (e.g. properties destroyed) and we don’t expect to be eligible for assistance,” the spokesman said.

“While there were some adverse impacts in the Bundaberg Region, other parts of the country were much more severely impacted.”

But the Queensland Government condemned the move.

Queensland Minister for State Development Cameron Dick is seen during Question Time in Parliament House in Brisbane, Tuesday, February 18, 2020. (AAP Image/Dan Peled) NO ARCHIVING
Queensland Minister for State Development Cameron Dick is seen during Question Time in Parliament House in Brisbane, Tuesday, February 18, 2020. (AAP Image/Dan Peled) NO ARCHIVING

Minister responsible for the Queensland Reconstruction Authority, Cameron Dick, said the Prime Minister’s decision to refuse funding for nine communities – while increasing grants to councils that had already received the $1 million grant – was absurd.

“Increasing grants from $1 million up to $1.3 million is a welcome boost for the five Queensland communities and other Australian communities that the Prime Minister deemed fit to receive the grant,” he said.

“However, it’s absolutely devastating for the other nine Queensland communities that have also been left ravaged by the Queensland bushfires.”

Mr Dick said he wrote to the Prime Minister to ask him to extend the funding, but until now there had been silence.

“Once again, the Prime Minister’s decision has been made with no engagement, no consultation and a complete lack of understanding of the impacts on Queensland communities,” Mr Dick said.

“This is clearly a decision made by the Commonwealth in Canberra based on some desktop-derived formula.”

He said all levels of government needed to work together to help communities impacted by bushfires, “but it seems we have the Commonwealth making decisions and the state and local governments left scratching our heads”.

But Hinkler MP Keith Pitt said there were other supports available for Bundaberg despite not being eligible for DRFA grants.

“The Coalition Government is acting on advice from the independent National Bushfire Recovery Agency and the data and information it’s collecting,” Mr Pitt said.

“The Government will continue to announce further investment based on the recommendations of the Agency.

“A range of support is being provided to bushfire-affected communities as part of the $2 billion National Bushfire Recovery Fund including $76 million to rebuild the tourism industry.

“Bundaberg Tourism and Bundaberg Regional Council are both eligible for the Regional Tourism Bushfire Recovery Grants.”