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Bushfire recovery funding to focus on fire preparedness

14 January 2020

Southern Downs Regional Council will direct the focus of its $1M bushfire recovery funding submission towards rural residents and bushfire preparedness.

Councillors today endorsed, at a Special Council Meeting, to apply to the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development for resilience and recovery projects and will seek feedback on the eligibility of the following initiatives under the Bushfire Recovery Funding Program:

·         Water tank rebates for rural landowners (not connected to any reticulated water supply)

·         Fire break master plan to identify future fire breaks and address construction and maintenance of additional fire breaks within the region

·         Drought and bushfire regional readiness plan (inclusive of the adverse event plan)

·         Expressions of interest from regional community and sporting organisations to undertake maintenance to community facilities including halls, clubhouses etc

Southern Downs Regional Council Mayor Tracy Dobie said Council has been proactively navigating funding avenues to support the drought and fire affected region.

“Both the State and Federal Governments have generously supported our region with multiple funding initiatives and grants that have directly benefited our community and economy,” said Mayor Tracy Dobie.

“Following the Federal Government funding announcement late last week, Council has been quick to address how it can move forward to have the funding directed to where it is urgently needed.

“The rural water tank rebate has been at the top of Council’s wish list for some time. We are hopeful that this new wave of Federal funding will finally open that door.

“Council’s submission will also include resilience projects that will put our region on the front foot with better preparation for future bushfire threats.”

Councillor for Agriculture, Environment and Sustainability Cameron Gow, who was part of the Rural Fire Service Incident Management Team conducting firefighting efforts during the 2019 September bushfire, saw the opportunity for the funding to be channelled toward fire preparedness.

“During the events that we’ve had, we found that there was a significant lack of continuity surrounding where the firebreaks are located across local, state, federal, and privately owned land. There is no singular location where all the information about firebreaks can be found, “said Cr Gow.

The Federal Government last week committed ‘untied’ funding to 42 local governments affected by bushfire since August 2019.

Council thanked the Federal Government for the generous relief funding and praised the investment in a strong and unique region.

The Federal Government funding commitment comes after an early start to an unprecedented and catastrophic bushfire season.

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