The Morrison and Berejiklian Governments have announced they will share the costs on a 50:50 basis for the clean-up of residential and commercial properties destroyed by the recent bushfires in NSW.
This follows the successful approach adopted by the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments following the Black Saturday bushfires.
The cost of the NSW clean-up is expected to run into the hundreds of millions of dollars, though a definitive number cannot be settled until the fires have ceased and sites are assessed.
As part of recovery efforts the NSW Government has also selected Laing O’Rourke Australia as the lead contractor to undertake the clean-up.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Commonwealth Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, NSW Deputy Premier and Minister responsible for Disaster Recovery John Barilaro, Commonwealth Minister for Natural Disaster and Emergency Management David Littleproud and NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the funding agreement would give people more certainty as the recovery process continues.
“This is an important step to get the clean-up and rebuilding process moving to help people get back on their feet,” the Prime Minister said.
“We know many people are still battling these blazes but where the fire-front has passed we’re deploying $2 billion through our National Bushfire Recovery Agency to help people rebuild their homes and communities.”
“The destruction caused by these fires is unprecedented and the process of recovery and rebuilding will take time, but I want people to know, we will be with them every step of the way,” the Premier said.
“Government is picking up the bill for the clean-up, at no cost to owners, so if you’re uninsured, this is one less thing to worry about and if you are insured, it means you will be able to use every dollar of your policy to rebuild.”
Treasurer Perrottet said he expected all savings insurance companies may accrue as a result of the Government funded clean-up to be passed on to policy holders to help assist them in the rebuilding process.
“I know people are anxious to have their properties cleared as soon as possible which is why the NSW Government has hit the ground running with the clean-up effort,” Treasurer Perrottet said.
“Impacted owners wanting their property cleared need to call Service NSW on 13 77 88 to register their details and provide consent for access to their land.
“We are working with the new National Bushfire Recovery Agency to ensure a coordinated response to make clean-up as easy as possible for property owners.”
The NSW Government will provide regular updates to the Commonwealth on the progress of the clean-up.
Treasurer Frydenberg said the speed at which agreement was reached between the Commonwealth and the NSW government was not only a testament to the working relationship between the two levels of government but that of the National Bushfire Recovery Agency.
“An unprecedented joint effort has and is required to assist with the recovery, rebuilding and future resilience of local communities,” Treasurer Frydenberg said.
“The National Bushfire Recovery Agency has played a key role across the board ensuring the Commonwealth’s resources are reaching the communities when and where they are needed.”
The Deputy Premier said the clean-up was a mammoth task but that he was confident the partnership with Laing O’Rourke will see properties cleared and the rebuild begin as soon as possible.
“With 2,399 homes destroyed and more than 10,000 buildings damaged or destroyed all up, we have a long journey ahead of us,” the Deputy Premier said.
“Despite the enormity of the job, Laing O’Rourke has indicated the majority of properties will be substantially cleared by mid-year, with a focus on residential properties.
“The contractor will also be working hand in hand with Public Works Advisory to engage local suppliers and subcontractors, to keep local economies ticking over.
“Our emergency services, volunteers and our farmers have been outstanding in emergency situations these past months, and we need to be as vigilant in recovery as they have been in the face of disaster.”
Minister Littleproud said the Commonwealth would continue to step up to do whatever it takes.
“We will continue to respond to changing conditions while these fires affect communities across the country,” Minister Littleproud said.
“As the rebuilding begins, the Commonwealth will be there to make sure communities are well-resourced.”