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We need more boots and less suits to accelerate the Black Summer Bushfire Recovery Grants Program in my electorate and assist with practical projects to increase the resilience of Victoria’s coastal and regional communities.

Eighteen months after the bushfires which took lives, destroyed homes, killed wildlife and undermined regional economies, I’m sorry to report that the progress on economic recovery projects in Gippsland is still tangled in bureaucracy.

The major failing of the recovery has been the lack of urgency of Bushfire Recovery Victoria and other state government departments to approve major projects and actually get stuff done on the ground.

We are still waiting for bridges, tracks, trails and jetties to be replaced and repaired 18 months after the fires. We need more boots getting the work done on the ground and less suits in Melbourne making excuses.

To add insult to injury the Black Summer Bushfire Recovery Grants Program, announced last month, has notionally allocated just $4.5 million to the East Gippsland Shire Council.

This funding envelope proposed by our own government is insulting to East Gippslanders and doesn’t properly reflect the extent of damage compared to
other municipalities in Victoria.

Under the model proposed by the Canberra bureaucrats the broader geographic region of north-east Victoria will receive $27 million while the broader Gippsland region will share in just $9 million.

The minister responsible needs to ensure the funding envelopes are adjusted to provide a fairer deal for East Gippslanders in recognition of the enormous unmet demands in my community.

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