An industry body has called for government action to promote investment in an “economy savaged by bushfires”.
The Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) said disruptions hitting local communities, companies and supply chains across the country could “overwhelm” cash injections from federal and state government.
Ai Group said: “With Australia’s already-decelerating economy savaged by bushfires, the government should act right now to get private sector investment moving to stimulate the broader economy, reignite jobs growth and lift flat-lining productivity.
“This is far from crisis territory, but signs of an upturn are few and far between and risks of a more severe downturn are plain to see.”
The grape and wine sector has been working closely with the government to bring about a “road to recovery” for damaged businesses, including the Adelaide Hills region, which lost 25,000 hectares of farmland.
A roundtable held this month by government ministers representing more than 20 agriculture sectors discussed ways to overcome impacts.
Issues covered included direct support for growers and wineries, technical support and research, support for regions to attract tourists, support for communities, and international coordination.
The New South Wales and Victorian governments announced bushfire clean-up programmes would be fully funded by the states, in partnership with the federal government.
“The Victoria and Commonwealth governments will jointly provide up to $75m for the programme to demolish, remove and safely dispose of all buildings destroyed or damaged beyond repair,” said the Victorian Government.
Local businesses have been prioritised for clean-up contracts, which will include removal of fencing, trees, vehicles, and all buildings destroyed or damaged beyond repair, including residential, commercial and public buildings.
Construction firm Grocon will lead the clean-up programme for the Victorian Government, and contractors for NSW will be announced soon.
Rob Whelan, CEO at the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA), said: “This arrangement treats all affected property owners fairly and equally. It should result in faster and safer site clean-up for many, and help ensure greater community safety in the removal and transport of potentially hazardous materials.
“The Victorian Government’s prioritisation of local subcontractors will play an important role in the economic recovery of bushfire-affected communities.
“The ICA welcomes the Commonwealth’s financial involvement in this arrangement with Victoria and encourages all state governments to adopt similar models to assist communities in their bushfire recoveries.”
The federal government has already launched a $2bn National Bushfire Recovery Agency to rebuild communities.
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