Media Releases

Media releases from the Office of Susan Templeman MP.

Enquiries from the media should be directed to the Media Adviser via the Electorate Office on (02) 4573 8222 or via email to [email protected]

CROPS UNDER THREAT AS RECOVERY FUNDING LAGS

October 06, 2020

Apple crops from one of the Hawkesbury’s major growers are at risk due to delays in promised Federal Government funding to replace netting lost in last summer’s bushfires, Federal Member for Macquarie Susan Templeman has said.

 

Tourist icon Bilpin Fruit Bowl lost 7,000 apple trees and acres of netting protecting them when bushfire engulfed Bilpin in December 2019.

 

The businesses has now purchased 12 massive bales of replacement netting -  enough to protect the entire property - and was relying on a Federal Government grant announced in June to help pay labour costs to install it.

 

But business owner Margaret Tadrosse said that while the NSW Government funding has come through, she’s been told that no criteria has been established for the Federal grant, and no decision made on which government department will administer it.

 

“Now it’s October and the trees are starting to blossom with the next crop,” Ms Templeman said.

 

“If these nets don’t go up immediately, it will leave the entire crop vulnerable to damage from animals and the weather.

 

“This was raised with the Federal Minister on January 13 when he visited the area, and we talked about what the priorities were. Now it’s October and this business is still waiting on recovery funding while it prepares for the next season,” Ms Templeman said.

 

“If this doesn’t get done now, this well-known business is looking at even further losses from the summer fires.”

 

Ms Tadrosse said the new bales of netting had been sitting idle for weeks, and that installing them would take months.

 

“The whole farm needs to be netted, and that’s about 40 acres of netting. The bales have been sitting here for six to eight weeks waiting to be done,” Ms Tadrosse said.

 

“Contractors will spend a minimum of three months on this job, replacing poles and wire and netting. It should have been started six months ago.

 

“The fire was on December 21, 2019. I said at the time my priority was to get my netting back up.

 

“We can’t even clear the old netting, it’s got to be done by the contractor because all the wire that holds it up is connected. If we cut a strainer, it will all come down.

 

“The existing mature trees – the ones that survived the fire – are now coming back into their fruit season. They are all uncovered and exposed to the elements, hail, bats, and birds because we lost the netting to the fire.”

 

Ms Templeman said she shared the frustration of local business owners and residents at the pace of the recovery effort.

 

“It’s been four months since the details of the Federal scheme was announced, and I wrote to the Minister about this issue more than a month ago when Margaret alerted me to the latest delay, and I was assured the problem would be fixed immediately,” Ms Templeman said. “They’re good at announcements, but not so good at delivering.

 

“Meanwhile, businesses like Margaret’s are trying to keep generating income so they can provide jobs for local people through a pandemic.

 

“I don’t know where the delay is, but this needs to be sorted out immediately so that the legacy of these fires doesn’t result in massive losses for locals.”

SIGN UP TO MY EMAIL NEWSLETTER