Calls by local NSW Greens MP Tamara Smith to return to parliament early to enact laws that would allow immediate cash payments to bushfire survivors have been rejected by local Nationals MLC Ben Franklin.
Franklin, who lost against incumbent MP Tamara Smith in the March 2019 election, told The Echo, that instead members of NSW parliament, ‘Should be in their electorates providing what support they can during this period.
‘The bushfires in Australia at the moment are devastating and the government is working around the clock to support families and communities who have lost so much.
‘NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian [Liberal] has announced a $1 billion boost to the NSW Disaster Relief Package to rebuild roads, schools, bridges and other infrastructure, to get towns and communities back on their feet.
‘The state government has worked closely with the federal government to deliver a further $2 billion in bushfire disaster relief funds, which will focus on cash payments to individuals, small businesses and councils’.
Despite the rhetoric, there are reports that those who have lost everything have been provided with just $1,280 (for an individual) in relief funding from the NSW government (Source: ABC).
Yet Franklin claims his government is ‘committed to supporting affected individuals, families and the broader community to get back on their feet as soon as possible.’
He says the state and federal coalition governments have ‘allocated over $3 billion to help affected areas’.
‘It is critical that people in affected areas can access a range of support as quickly as possible.
‘The government also offers an array of services to bushfire affected populations including site clean-up, for both insured and uninsured properties, and a Bushfire Housing Assistance Service to provide accommodation options and financial assistance for temporary accommodation to those whose homes have been lost.
‘Minister for Agriculture, Adam Marshall, has also established emergency fodder points to provide feed to stock affected by fires, and through the Department of Primary Industries, animal welfare services are being offered, including veterinary support and care of animals in evacuation centres.
MPs should support communities
‘Many MPs on all sides of parliament live in fire affected areas and have been supporting their communities and defending their towns (and sometimes their own homes) during this devastating time.
‘An early return to Parliament, I believe, would be inappropriate.
‘Access to health services is extremely important for all those in fire affected areas and I would encourage everyone to get regular health check-ups and see their doctor if they have any concerns’.