Barilaro: initial bushfire clean-up target has been met

The fire clean up will continue into next month.

Although there are bushfire-affected properties across the state that are still due to be cleared under the NSW Government’s clean-up program, Deputy Premier and Minister responsible for Disaster Recovery John Bailaro maintains that the initial clearing target of 2,800 properties was met by the June 30 deadline.

Senator Mathias Cormann said in mid-June that “most debris will be cleared by the end of June and all is expected to be completed by July 31.”

Visiting Cobargo on Tuesday, Mr Barilaro announced further support for fire-affected communities through a rebuild and housing strategy which will see houses rebuilt for up to 100 families.

“As the majority of the clean-up is completed and rebuild begins, the NSW Government has committed $26 million in funding to assist some of the hardest hit families to rebuild their homes,” Mr Barilaro said.

“The Disaster Welfare Rebuild Program will rebuild the houses of up to 100 families who own their land but have no means to replace it.

“The program will be further supported by a NSW Government Housing Strategy which is currently in development through Resilience NSW.”

Mr Barilaro said that when Laing O’Rourke was appointed as the contractor to oversee the clean-up back in late January, the target was to clear 2,800 properties by June 30 and this has now been reached.

“It is my priority that no one is left behind, that is why we launched Operation Outreach, to actively seek out any other property owners who need assistance,” Mr Barilaro said,

“This has resulted in an additional 900 eligible properties, which we expect to be cleared by the end of July.”

Member for Bega Andrew Constance said the progress of the clean-up is remarkable, steaming ahead amidst a global pandemic, inclement weather, all whilst providing 1000 jobs with 99 per cent of contracts awarded to local and regional subcontractors.

“Our commitment from day one has been to help the people of NSW get back on their feet and I am pleased to be focussing on the next stage which is rebuilding homes,” Mr Constance said.

“Our support does not have a cut-off date. We urge anyone who needs assistance with accommodation to call Service NSW on 133 77 88.”

Those wishing to have their property cleared can also register online at https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/transaction/register-opt-nsw-bushfire-clean.

There are certain eligibility requirements for the Resilience NSW rebuild program announced on Tuesday. The criteria include those that are uninsured, low income, low assets, lost their principle place of residence at the time of the disaster and have rebuild plans that are suitable to receive development consent.

Although Mr Barilaro insists that his government met the deadline, NSW Labor continues to call on the Liberal and National government to apologise for “failing to meet their promised deadline of June 30 for the clean-up of properties damaged and destroyed by bushfire.”

“John Barilaro and Gladys Berejiklian said they would clean up bushfire ravaged communities before June 30, but this morning there are still hundreds of people waiting for the Government to come good on their promises,” Labor’s Deputy Leader, Yasmin Catley said.

“John Barilaro is a charlatan. He has raced around the state for six months promising the world, but he has failed to deliver on any of his commitments,” Ms Catley added.

Labor says that Mr Barilaro told an Estimates hearing in March that he expected to meet the June 30 deadline for the clean up project.

“We knew back then that Barilaro’s mouth was writing cheques his Department couldn’t cash, but with the usual bluster and spin he assured us it would all work out,” Ms Catley said.

Labor has also criticised the government’s temporary accommodation pods project, as they say almost two thirds of all applicants are still waiting for an accommodation pod to be delivered to them as of June 16.

“People are beginning to realise that John Barilaro is all hat and no cattle. Bushfire survivors across the state are suffering because of his failure to make good on his promises,” Ms Catley said.