THE HON BILL SHORTEN MP
LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
MEMBER FOR MARIBYRNONG
SENATOR THE HON DOUG CAMERON
SHADOW MINISTER FOR HUMAN SERVICES
SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES
PRIME MINISTER DITHERS WHILE BLUE MOUNTAINS COMMUNITIES CONTINUE TO SUFFER
Bushfire-affected communities in the Blue Mountains continue to miss out on assistance because the Abbott Government is refusing to restore the same disaster payment criteria used for previous natural disasters.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott today told Parliament:
The Leader of the Opposition says that we've cut assistance for bushfire victims. We have not. Australian disaster recovery payments have been made to people who were severely affected by that disaster.
Tony Abbott – House of Representatives - 13 November 2013
This is not correct.
Nearly three weeks ago, the Opposition wrote to Prime Minister Abbott calling on the Government to ensure Blue Mountains residents were treated the same as those affected by natural disasters elsewhere – (letter attached). In failing to respond, the Government is simply ignoring the needs of Blue Mountains residents.
For previous disasters, such as the 2009 Victorian Bushfires and 2013 Tasmania Bushfires, people in these categories were eligible for the $1,000 disaster payment:
- There has been no access to the principal place of residence for a period of at least 24 hours, or
- An individual or family has been stranded in their residence for a period of at least 24 hours, or
- A place of residence was without a particular utility service (electricity, water, gas, sewage services or another essential service) for a continuous period of 48 hours.
For the Blue Mountains Bushfires, the Abbott Government has ruled people in these categories ineligible.
This is a shameful and unfair decision that should be urgently reversed.
It’s bad enough that Tony Abbott has cut this assistance, but it’s even worse to pretend in Parliament that no cuts have occurred.
Prime Minister Abbott has also failed to implement his election promise to provide concessional loans of up to $100,000 to Blue Mountains small businesses who have been negatively affected by the bushfires.
He has also failed commit to a State/Federal government co-ordinated demolition and removal of all waste on all residential and business sites affected by the fire, as occurred in the days following the 2013 Tasmanian and 2009 Victorian Bushfires.
Fire affected communities in the Blue Mountains continue to miss out because of the Abbott Government’s inaction.
WEDNESDAY, 13 NOVEMBER 2013
MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT: 6277 4053
MARK ANDREWS 0417 024 890 (CAMERON)