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Media releases from the Office of Susan Templeman MP.

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Susan Templeman on The Alan Jones Breakfast Show 6 March 2020

March 06, 2020

ALAN JONES, HOST: Just away from this coronavirus and back to drought and bushfires, the minister in charge is supposed to be this Littleproud. You heard him the other day with Deb Knight, unbelievable stuff, nothing but jargon. What did he tell Debra? “As we continue to roll through this and we see the implications, we're going to make sure our response is targeted and measured.” And Deb said, yes but what are you doing? Rubbish. I'm still waiting for an appropriate answer from Littleproud to a letter I wrote on February the 13th about where the need exists and who are affected by drought and bushfires. Who are they, where are they? I feel sorry for the Prime Minister, he believes the government has released resources, and they have. But he's got blockheads administering this stuff. Now I don't know how you define disturbing. I had a disturbing email from the Federal Member for Macquarie Susan Templeman. Now there is no use playing politics with this stuff. She is the Labor Federal Member for the, I call it, the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury, the seat's Macquarie. But she's the Member for Bushfires, because Blue Mountains were bushfires, Hawkesbury were bushfires this summer. Susan Templeman. She's tried to work with the Federal Government. She spent a day in January with the bushfire recovery leader Andrew Colvin, I don't know what he knows about bushfire recovery, and the Minister – Littleproud – in January. And the date today is – I'll check it here – March 6. Susan Templeman wrote to me on Tuesday, I read the thing, I couldn't believe what she was telling me. And you've got to really think again to understand. She says she's listened closely – her words – to the stress and issues facing farmers and residents who've lost their homes and businesses. And then she wrote to me this, quote, “I've got to a point where I feel the wool's been pulled over my eyes. There were lots of good announcements but it's not being matched by the facts on the ground.” Here's the rub – Tuesday of this week – she said, last night, which would have been Monday night, in Senate Estimates we learned there is no national bushfire recovery fund established as was promised by the Prime Minister in January, it doesn't exist. They call it notional. She says to me this is the fund that's meant to support families. There is no – March 6 – no national bushfire recovery fund. She's on the line, Susan Templeman good morning.
JONES: All I can say is you've got to be kidding me?
TEMPLEMAN: We think it's a huge joke and it's not a funny one, because all people want is to see a bit of cash flow through, especially for small business to help them, tide them over what's been months of terrible, terrible business. And they tell me business has only slightly picked up, even though the fires have stopped burning. They really need support, and back in January wage subsidies were one of the things that they were suggesting, and that's two months ago.
JONES: I know, it's just unbelievable. Now look I should say to my listeners, this woman's speaking from first-hand experience. She lost her own home in 2013 in the Winmalee bushfires. But the story that you're outlining here is extraordinary. You're saying that $25 million of the $76 million of tourism funding – and this is the Member for Blue Mountains, beautiful tourism precinct, lovely spot – you're saying 25 of the 76 has been redirected to Cairns?
TEMPLEMAN: Yep, that was reported by News Limited in Queensland, and I think the Government obviously hoped we wouldn't hear that. But we read the papers from all over the place and while there absolutely will need to be tourism support for small businesses and big businesses in tourism in the wake of coronavirus, that money was promised for bushfires. It was promised for communities like mine. You know, we didn't burn down but some of the businesses feel they might as well have, because they feel just as bereft.
JONES: That's correct, that's correct. And I mean you're saying to me that this business that Scott Morrison has said, and I believe Scott Morrison is sincere, that grants will be rolled out and he said if we need more, we'll get more to small business and to farmers. You are saying only five have been granted?
TEMPLEMAN: Yeah, that's what we learned. In my community when I spoke to my major tourism group, they said only one person had received financial support and that was through Centrelink. It was $3000 of wages subsidy or wages assistance for the time when they had to close. That's it. Three thousand dollars that has hit that major tourism group's members.
JONES: And the Prime Minister said whatever it takes.
TEMPLEMAN: Yeah, well, we're just not seeing it.
JONES: I know this area well, I mean there are people in the administration of this, Susan, who are out of their depth. You've got orchardists in Bilpin, you've got businesses in Blackheath. These are beautiful parts, tourism precincts, Mt Victoria, your words, who bore the brunt of the fires in terms of actually burning and they're, quote, rightly disappointed with what's happening on the ground. So no one is coming to the party. It's March 6. 
TEMPLEMAN: It's the time delay that's the real kicker here. You know I said in January if we move fast on this, we can re-stimulate the economy and really get people back quickly visiting the Blue Mountains not just for day trips but coming and staying. The other big problem that the accommodation – the B&Bs, the hotels, guesthouses – have is people are making last minute decisions to come and visit but they're not doing forward bookings. They're not planning ahead. And you know what that's like as a business person, it's awful seeing your books empty for months to come.
JONES: Terrible. Absolutely.
TEMPLEMAN: So we need people to come here but we need the government to give us the funding so we can run the campaigns to get people to come here.
JONES: Well, this is the point isn't it. There's been no business for these people since mid-November.
TEMPLEMAN: Yeah, our first really catastrophic day …
JONES: We're talking Katoomba and Leura and Blackheath and Mt Victoria, beautiful parts of the world and these people are barely hanging on.
TEMPLEMAN: Yep, and the more isolated places that you'd know like Megalong Valley, up past Wisemans heading up into St Albans and the fabulous Settlers Arms up there. So there's little, family-owned businesses that are crying out for visitors. There's the teapot shop, Bygone Beauties, in Leura there's Little Niche Nosh, you know, just all these terrific (inaudible)
JONES: Yes, you know Susan I used to go up to the Blue Mountains – this is stupid, isn't it – and I used to go because they'd have all this stuff from deceased estates. And I'd buy all table napkins and tablecloths and everything from up there because they are absolutely beautiful from all those teapot shops and everything. They're lovely. And you're saying, I mean, the smoke's cleared but the recovery isn't over. So, two points to this; we've got to crank the government up to actually do the things that they promised they'd do, and we all have got to return to the Blue Mountains to put some money into small business.
TEMPLEMAN: Absolutely, drive up to Bilpin and pick fruit and drink cider and eat apple pie but then stay the night and eat in the wonderful restaurants like Lochiel House. If you love us, come and visit us is what our mayor said, and he's spot on. The extra thing then is for the government to give some, we suggested at a media conference this week with Anthony Albanese, the wage subsidy idea. We did that in 2011 after Cyclone Yasi and it helped. (inaudible)
JONES: But where's Littleproud? Where's Littleproud?
TEMPLEMAN: Look, I was really pleased that he and Andrew Colvin, it was the first trip that Andrew Colvin had done to a bushfire-affected area, and I was really pleased that they agreed to meet with a lot of my residents but also with my businesses. I want to think the best of them, and I really want to see, I want to work with them not just work against them. But they do need to get the message very clearly that what they're doing is not working, the Prime Minister's whatever it takes is not translating on the ground.
JONES: Good on you, I tell you what you are doing a great job. Hang in, let me know early next week if there's been any reaction to this. I'll be speaking to these people today.
TEMPLEMAN: Thanks Alan, the Mountains and the Hawkesbury appreciates your support.


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