Councils united in calls for bushfire funding
TWO COUNCILS are pleading not to be left high and dry following the Australian Government's announcement to support communities affected by bushfire.
Grappling with the aftermath of the widespread fires which swept through the regions between September and November 2019, the Lockyer Valley and Somerset Regional councils are rallying together to ensure these two prime agricultural and farming communities can attract the same government support as their neighbouring and interstate councils.
Somerset Regional Council Mayor Graeme Lehmann said assistance would go a long way in ensuring the two regional communities are able to rebuild after submitting letters for support to the federal government last week.
"It is fantastic the Australian Government have announced financial support to areas including Sunshine Coast, Noosa, Southern Downs and Scenic Rim, but Somerset and Lockyer Valley should also be included," Cr. Lehmann said.
"Council recognises the damage caused to our community and economy by recent bushfires and wants to ensure our residents are equally supported, particularly since the damage in our region was considered significant by comparison to nearby areas.
The fires have had a massive economic impact, destroying fending and grazing land, which has forced fire-affected farmers to destock at considerably lower prices.
"This will take many years to replenish once the drought breaks and the land recovers from the fires," Cr. Lehmann said.
"Our regions have dealt with the full extremes of Mother Nature in previous years, and while we are extremely grateful for the support shown by the Australian Government following previous natural disasters, we shouldn't be forgotten in these grants and subsidies."
Lockyer Valley Mayor, Tanya Milligan echoed her counterpart's comments, detailing the harsh, yet real impacts these fires have had on her region.
"The two regions had a combined seven dwellings destroyed by bushfires in November and December 2019 and significant portions of fencing, grazing and cropping land were also lost," Mayor Milligan said.
"I am aware of one property owner alone who has lost around 13.5 kilometres of fencing which is in desperate need of repair and another who is still unable to fully assess their losses due to fallen trees blocking their access."
She said residents in these regions were resilient, but the burdens of fire, drought, and floods were taking their toll, with the areas often being overlooked when it comes to federal funding support."
"We are just asking for the significance of our fires to be recognised and for our people to be able to access the same support as our neighbouring Council areas," Cr. Milligan said.
"The immediate federal funding will back our regional communities, strengthen resilience and help get our people back on their feet faster."
Both mayors expressed their willingness to meet with any government representative, join any inspection of impacted communities or provide any evidence in support for their request for assistance.