Feb 23, 2009

Immediate assistance for flood & fire affected councils

Immediate assistance for flood & fire affected councils

MEDIA RELEASE

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

February 23 2009

Victorian and Queensland councils devastated by recent natural disasters will receive almost $70 million in Financial Assistance Grants (FAG) three months early.

This financial year’s final quarterly FAG payment – original scheduled to be paid in May – will now be distributed to 35 flood and 24 fire affected councils from today, honouring a pledge given by the Prime Minister and follows my recent visit to the affected regions.

All up, more than $40.6 million will be shared amongst the Victorian councils devastated by bushfires and over $28 million will be provided to flood affected councils in north Queensland.

This immediate funding injection will help alleviate the cash flow problems caused by these natural disasters and give affected councils the resources they need to start the job of repairing their infrastructure and rebuilding their communities.

For example, a quarter of the houses in Murrindindi Shire Council have been burnt to the ground, potentially affecting its revenue base in the short term and capacity to recovery over the longer term.

Importantly, our advance payments are untied and can be spent by councils on local priorities.

The Government has also provided affected councils with the opportunity to re-prioritise their projects under the $800 million Community Infrastructure Program.

I will continue to consult with affected councils to make sure my Department is doing all it can to assist them to rebuild their communities.