Speech: Senate bushfire inquiry's interim report

Speech: Senate bushfire inquiry's interim report Main Image

Mrs PHILLIPS (Gilmore) (10:42): Our community on the New South Wales South Coast has had one of our toughest years. The bushfires that ravaged our towns and villages, starting in November and continuing all through summer are imprinted on our memories. In the time since the bushfires, I have met with so many community associations and local organisations to talk about their experience and hear their ideas for what comes next.

I was pleased to see many of these discussions reflected in the 13 recent interim recommendations of the Senate's inquiry into the bushfires. The report called on the government to urgently invest in resilience and mitigation works; to review, with a view to increasing, the Disaster Recovery Payment, a payment of only $1000 when you lose your home in a natural disaster, and the Disaster Recovery Allowance; to review the way the insurance industry deals with climate related events; and, importantly, to reverse funding cuts to the ABC and ensure its emergency broadcast services are properly funded. I welcome these recommendations and I call on the government to act now to help make sure we never experience another bushfire season like the last one.

I was however appalled at the government's dissenting report on this inquiry—a report which, among other things, chose to lecture those in my community about 'personal responsibility' and pushed for a cut in the Disaster Recovery Payment and the Disaster Recovery Allowance. When you have lost everything—your home, your clothes and all your belongings—$1,000 is hardly an incentive against getting insurance. To imply so is nothing more than insulting and shows that the Liberals and Nationals have absolutely no idea about the lived experience of people impacted by bushfire.

Families are now trying to work out what they will do at Christmas this year when their temporary accommodation runs out. It has been almost a year since the bushfires hit the South Coast, and most insurance policies only have 12 months of temporary accommodation included.

With the clean-up taking longer than expected and many people still months away from rebuilding, this is a real concern. And $1,000 is hardly going to help you in a situation like that, is it? Local people have had to beg and beg this government for help at every step, and it's simply appalling. The government simply has not done enough to address the daily reality of those who have lost everything. They have broken promises on the clean-up, they have broken promises on recovery and mitigation funds, and now they are using this report to insult bushfire impacted families. This is just not good enough, so I will keep fighting every day to make sure we get the help we deserve.