Post Bushfire Cleanup - Question Without Notice

February 06, 2020

Ms TEMPLEMAN (Macquarie) (14:26): My question is to the Prime Minister. Why is the Prime Minister forcing my community, which has been burning for months, to wait until the middle of this year before their blocks are cleared of bushfire debris?

Mr MORRISON (Cook—Prime Minister and Minister for the Public Service) (14:27): The arrangements that have been put in place with the New South Wales government—the contract tender was issued by the New South Wales government, I think, about a week ago now. They're seeking, as was the case after the Black Saturday fires—and we've taken that as the model—to have overarching contractors which can move in and clear all of these sites. That will be done at government expense done fifty-fifty between the Commonwealth and the state government. That will mean that, for those who have blocks that have been impacted by fire, their homes burnt or destroyed, that cost will be met by the government. That means the insurance they have will go further. For the underinsurance that may be there, it means that they will have a bigger impact from the insurance they have available to them. Those who don't have insurance will at the very least, as a result of the government's actions, working with the New South Wales government, who are running this program, who are issuing the tenders, who are selecting the contractor and implementing the program—we are going to pick up half of that bill, as was the precedent established after the Black Saturday fires.

We'll be entering into a similar agreement with the Victorian government, and that is underway now. These contracts, these works will be run by the New South Wales government, and I have no doubt that they are moving as a government as quickly as they can to provide that support. I would think that that type of approach would have the support of the opposition, but I say to the member what I said to the member for Gilmore yesterday: we understand the great distress in their communities. Again I would pass onto the member, as I did to the member for Gilmore yesterday, our deep sympathy and strong support through the recovery programs we'll be putting in place and are delivering, with over $100 million in disaster recovery payments already delivered on the ground to over 70,000 Australians and over 30,000 children. We will continue to deliver this support and work with the state and territory governments who deliver this on the ground. We are meeting all of those responsible costs at a fifty-fifty basis, and I look forward to working with the New South Wales Premier and her ministers to ensure that they can get that done as quickly as possible.