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Towong Shire needs road clearing help

Constituency question

Ms MAXWELL (Northern Victoria) (12:02): My question is to the Minister for Local Government, and it relates to the impact on local roads of landslides and run-off soil since the bushfires in the Towong shire. As we know, plants and tree roots help to bind the ground, and after a bushfire these footings are severely compromised. Subsequent rain softens the ground and increases the likelihood of run-off and landslides, which will recur for years as the land rejuvenates.

Towong shire has taken responsibility for numerous clean-ups of debris across roads in the shire but cannot claim landslides and run-off as part of the bushfire event. Towong shire has many roads affected, and their operating budget simply cannot sustain this cost for years to come. I ask the minister: what funding supports are available to Towong shire to support them in dealing with their ongoing costs of clearing their roads of run-off while their landscape recovers and restabilises from the bushfires?

Change could speed bushfire rebuild

Bushfire Recovery Victoria data shows 458 homes were destroyed or damaged in Victoria and almost 18 months later it’s estimated that fewer than three per cent of the people displaced have moved back into permanent housing.

Corryong FoodShare needs confidence and certainty

Question on notice

Ms MAXWELL (Northern Victoria) (11:56): My question is to the Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers, regarding the need for Corryong Foodshare Services to have a permanent site for their relief efforts. Corryong Foodshare delivers to Walwa, Cudgewa, Thowgla, Biggara, Nariel Valley, Corryong township and everywhere in between, clothing and feeding over 110 families last year.

They have operated from the scout hall for a number of years, but this is no longer possible for the long term and they urgently require a permanent home. Investment for regional food hubs is welcome, but the geographical distance between Albury-Wodonga and Corryong demonstrates the need for a dedicated food-share premises instead of operating out of a borrowed building soon to be reclaimed.

My question to the minister is: Will he meet with Corryong Foodshare and discuss potential solutions so they can continue providing vital support to bushfire-affected and vulnerable people?

Justice Party seeks government help to speed housing fix in bushfire communities

Tania Maxwell MP will seek Victorian government support to alleviate the challenges and financial costs still faced by people who lost homes to last year’s Black Summer bushfires when the Legislative Council meets in Bright on April 29.

The Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party Member for Northern Victoria said the regional sitting had been convened to acknowledge the fires’ impact in the North East and the serious business and tourism knock-ons from these disasters in communities that she represents, including Alpine, Towong, Indigo, Mansfield, Wangaratta and Wodonga.

“The Victorian government has worked hard to help people back on their feet, but we must be able to expedite rebuilding and recovery,” Ms Maxwell said.

“This includes finding ways to accommodate tradespeople so they can get the job done and families can move into their new homes.

“The fires had an enormous physical impact across our communities, especially in Towong, Alpine and East Gippsland local government areas.

“But mental trauma and stress brought on by these disasters continue for many families.

“Bushfire Recovery Victoria data shows 458 homes were destroyed or damaged in Victoria and almost 18 months later it’s estimated that fewer than three per cent of the people displaced have moved back into permanent housing.

“The motion I’ll put to the sitting encourages us as parliamentarians to recognise the devastation and distress suffered by people in our communities whose homes were destroyed or damaged, who have been living in temporary accommodation and who are going through the arduous process of rebuilding.

“At a practical level, I want Parliament to be keenly aware of the challenges delaying and compromising the re-housing effort.

“Often there are significant financial gaps between insurance pay-outs and the costs of building in a bushfire-prone area, particularly the spending needed so new buildings comply with Victoria’s Bushfire Attack Level ratings system.

“There’s also a severe shortage of readily available accommodation so builders, plumbers, electricians and other essential tradies can deliver what they’re engaged to do in the communities where this help is needed.”

Ms Maxwell said her motion would ask the government to consider urgent changes to policies and regulations to alleviate fundamental, ongoing problems.

“As an elected representative of communities that have been so seriously affected, it’s my job to make sure all parliamentarians understand the personal, economic and community impacts, and for the government to find ways to deliver swift and effective solutions,” she said.

Ms Maxwell said estimates of the fires’ economic impact in eastern Victoria showed:

  • $114-199 million decline across all industries in Alpine, Towong and East Gippsland
  • $79-181m decline across all industries in Indigo, Mansfield, Wangaratta, Wellington and Wodonga local government areas
  • $330-350m in tourism losses in bushfire-affected regions between December 2019 and March 2020.
  • 10,000 livestock lost
  • 742 properties required clean-up