Deputy Premier rules out tilt at Eden-Monaro

Deputy Premier John Barilaro speaking with (L to R) Paul Barrie from Laing O’Rourke, Maliyan Horizon Managing Director Emma Muller and Cootamundra MP Steph Cooke.

While visiting Tumut on Wednesday to attend the opening ceremony of Maliyan Horizon’s Tumut branch, Deputy Premier and Minister responsible for Disaster Recovery John Barilaro spoke to the Tumut and Adelong Times about an array of local issues impacting our community.

Eden-Monaro by-election

While in Tumut Mr Barilaro confirmed that he is “absolutely ruling out” running for the seat of Eden-Monaro in the upcoming by-election.

Several Nationals MPs have publicly backed Mr Barilaro to turn in the seat,

“I’m focused now as Deputy Premier and as Minister responsible for Bushfire Recovery to just get on with the job and look after our regional communities through Covid, through drought, and through bushfires.”

Batlow house fire

Speaking of the house fire in Batlow which tragically took the lives of twin girls Aisha and Leilani Dubois, Mr Barilaro said “as a father of three daughters, it rocks me, it makes me sick to the core.

“While there’s a police investigation in play, we’ve got to let that happen,” he said, adding that “at the end of that, as a government, we’re more than happy to look at how we can maybe help that family, especially with the house.

“Right now I think we’ve just got to give the family time to grieve and the police to do their job.”

Timber industry

When asked about plans for the recovery of the timber industry, Mr Barilaro said that the NSW Government recently announced a $140 million industry package, with $70 million of that going to the timber industry and softwood industry.

“That is to support mills, look at investing in capital, and tomorrow (Thursday) we’ll actually be doing an announcement in relation down at the nursery in what will be the largest replanting this state has ever seen in relation to the softwood industry,” Mr Barilaro said.

Bushfire recovery progress

Mr Barilaro said that during the clean up process, Laing O’Rourke have obviously been “a really good partner of ours,” but “the success comes down to local contractors.”

1400 blocks out of 2500 have been cleared so far according to the Deputy Premier. He said that around 300 properties a week are cleared, and they’re confident they will meet their “ambitious target” of 2500 properties cleared by June 30.

“There will be a significant clean up around the edges from that,” Mr Barilaro added.

“We’ve still got a lot of public infrastructure we have to rebuild, supporting businesses, industry packages.

“What keeps me up at night are that there are people falling through the cracks, and that’s why on the weekend we announced a $8.5 million outreach program.”

‘Operation Outreach’ is a dedicated program made up of Resilience NSW, Service NSW, local councils, charities and locally embedded recovery services which will proactively seek out bushfire-impacted families and individuals and ensure they are utilising the support available.

It will be undertaken in two stages – the first step will see dedicated support officers ensure contact has been made with every single person who has been impacted by bushfires and actively week out anyone who has not made contact. The second step is to refer those in need to the dedicated, local recovery support service.

Regional travel

The NSW Government announced this week that as of June 1, regional travel in the state will be allowed for any reason, including holidays.

Mr Barilaro said this provides a good opportunity for tourism into the regions, especially leading into the June long weekend.

“If there’s ever been a time for Sydneysiders to come to regional NSW, now is it,” he said.  “We’ve been hurting [with] the bushfires, we’ve missed out on tourism in the past, this is almost the last chance to fill our cash registers before we go into the winter season.”