In Cobargo people are still homeless after the fires, so where is the $2 billion going?

12 Mar

This morning I received the following email from my sister, Sarah, who lost her home in the Cobargo fires.

I’m speaking to ABC radio tomorrow about how bad the situation is down here.

I haven’t looked but have you written anything about it on your blog?

PLEASE will you write about how people are still living in tents? I heard a story about people with a disabled son, his wheelchair burnt and they are now paying to hire one. I hear of people who are still without power and water. I found another person who was renting and had been evicted because the landlord now needs to live in the house, she has 3 children and is caring for a disabled sister, they have nowhere to go. People who want to go home to their places in the bush can’t go there because the roads aren’t cleared. The organisations down here are giving priority to farmers and their fences and to businesses NOT the homeless.

This area is a place where Coronavirus would take off. We have no running water, no power, no toilets.

I saw on the tele tonight that the government has earmarked $2.4 billion to combat Coronavirus. Surely the best thing to combat disease is to house people?

Please tell everyone,

from Sarah

PS I’m so pissed off!

At the height of the fires, after Prime Minister Scott Morrison was shamed into returning to Australia one day early from his Hawaiian holiday, the PM announced a $2 billion bushfire recovery fund, presumably to assist people like my sister and the people she speaks of in her email. So far, several months after the catastrophe, only 10 per cent of that money has been allocated.

According to this ABC report, from March 2, the very existence of the recovery fund is questionable:

Labor Senator Murray Watt questioned whether the $2 billion fund actually existed, after National Bushfire Recovery Agency deputy coordinator Abigail Bradshaw told the hearing the fund was “notional”.

“So, the Prime Minister’s announcement on the 6th of January, when he was under a lot of pressure, was that he had established a national bushfire recovery fund. But there is no fund, is there, it’s not anywhere within the budget statements?” Senator Watt asked.

So, is there or isn’t there a $2 billion bushfire relief fund? And if there is, why is it taking so long to distribute the funds to people in desperate situations? And if there isn’t, what the hell is the Coalition government playing at?

Winter in the Cobargo area is cold. Nobody wants to be living in a tent. Nobody wants to be without power, heating, and water. What do people struggling to survive the loss of everything actually have to do to see some of this $2 billion, to which they are absolutely entitled?

Morrison and his government have moved on to the COVID-19 crisis, which they no doubt see as an opportunity for them to  repair the massive loss of confidence, and the credibility they so thoroughly trashed during the bushfire disaster. We can only hope that monies promised to deal with the pandemic actually exist and, unlike the bushfire fund, are appropriately dispersed in time to have some effect.

In the meantime, the Coalition must answer all the questions surrounding the national bushfire recovery fund, the most urgent being, does it even exist? Because there are people in Cobargo, and I suspect many other fire-affected towns and villages across the country, who are living in tents and see no immediate relief from hardship, despite Morrison’s promises.

 

 

4 Responses to “In Cobargo people are still homeless after the fires, so where is the $2 billion going?”

  1. samjandwich March 12, 2020 at 3:22 pm #

    So it says here…https://www.bushfirerecovery.gov.au/ – if you’ve been “seriously” injured, lost a family member, your home or a “major asset” has been “significantly” damaged, you can get a grant of $1000 per adult, $800 per child (less probably if you’re not yet at school), and Newstart for 13 weeks – or if you’re already on Newstart you don’t have to look for work until… last week!

    Beyond that – I suppose they expect people to head along to their local homelessness service, if there even is one.

    Otherwise if there is indeed a fund it appears to be entirely devoted to infrastructure, environment and wildlife (proportions??), encouraging tourists back, and grants to small business and primary producers.

    Are we to conclude then that what your sister is seeing is actually part of a deliberate strategy of abandoning those in the greatest need to struggle on by themselves, because “the economy” is more important?

    Like

    • Anonymous March 12, 2020 at 3:38 pm #

      Hi samjandwich, this is the sister from Cobargo. YES that’s what its like. If you leave a dog without water the RSPCA will prosecute. if you leave a person without water then sorry, fencing cows is more important.

      Like

  2. Tony Daish March 13, 2020 at 5:47 pm #

    Same way as the 1956 flood relief funds.
    Rich got it all. We got kicked off the farm we were share farming.
    Dad lost his job and Mum had to go back teaching. We got zero $.

    Like

    • Anonymous March 14, 2020 at 2:09 pm #

      The south coast area of Cobargo has been a place of refuge for me and others who want to be safe and independent. We manage by living a simple life, working when we can and often receiving government assistance. Quite a knife edge existence.

      The bushfires have transformed ‘just managing’ to an inability to cope. The physical challenges are huge and the cost of paying for assistance means going without essentials.

      I was asked to provide a list of needs and this is what I came up with:
      a roof over my head, water, a toilet, electricity, phone and internet

      This sounds like a list of needs from someone in a third world country. Perhaps this is ‘the new norm’ I keep hearing about: Australia is a third world country.

      If we have a ‘new norm’ in the environment, why do we not have a ‘new norm’ of response?

      Like

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