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Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester is urging all levels of government to maximise local job opportunities as part of the bushfire recovery effort.

Mr Chester said local farmers and businesses were suffering as a direct result of the fires and evacuation during the peak tourism season.

“I welcome the announcement of $75 million funding to assist with the clean up of damaged buildings but there must be local contractors given the chance to do as much of the work as possible,” Mr Chester said.

“Similarly, the Australian Defence Force is doing a terrific job with relief and recovery support but I’ve stressed to senior military personnel that we want to supply the troops from local businesses and support the local economy.

“On top of the support already provided to our farming families we need to help them get through the drought and fires which have devastated agricultural incomes for three years.”

Mr Chester said he was working closely with representatives from all levels of government and was strongly advocating for a tourism stimulus package.

“We need to salvage what we can from this season and get the message out that East Gippsland is open for business while repairing infrastructure and investing in new attractions for the future,” Mr Chester said.

“Tourist attractions like the Buchan Caves Reserve need to receive the highest priority because the whole town’s economy relies on it re-opening as soon as possible.

“Then we need to secure the funding for better infrastructure on public land including our foreshores and coastal areas to boost visitor numbers in the future.

“The recovery is going to be a long process but all levels of government need to be committed to cutting through the bureaucracy and tape and finding the funds to deliver long-term improvements.”

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