Tag: Federal Government

Farmers grateful for $75k bushfire grant, but worried it’s not enough

Kempsey 2440

Ten weeks ago, David and Carolyn Duff lost 30 years worth of infrastructure in a bushfire at their Toorooka property west of Kempsey on the NSW Mid North Coast.

Key points:

  • Some farmers are spending $12,000 a week on fodder to keep their animals alive
  • They are concerned the $75,000 bushfire grant, while appreciated, will not be enough
  • Farmers were already struggling with drought before the fires, with concerns many dairy farmers, in particular, will not survive in the industry

“We’ve been feeding cattle on this property and we’re going through a semi-trailer load of hay a week — approximately $10,000 to $12,000 per semi,” Mr Duff said.

The operators of the cattle breeding property said they were worried producers in northern parts of the state were being forgotten.

So they welcomed yesterday’s announcement by the Federal Government of grants of up to $75,000 for farm businesses affected by bushfire.

But Mr Duff said “$75,000 has virtually been swallowed up just with feeding cattle”.

“We’re just very grateful for any support that we get, and I realise that it is taxpayers’ money that the Government is handing out,” he said.

“So as an Australian to Australian taxpayers — we’re very grateful for any assistance that we get.”


The Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals leader Michael McCormack visited the Duffs’ property ‘Toorooka’ west of Kempsey last year. (ABC Mid North Coast: Luisa Rubbo)

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) said the grants would go a long way to assisting farmers to recover, rebuild, and restore productivity.

It has given the Federal Government preliminary advice on the priority assistance requirements of farmers and the most appropriate investment for agriculture flowing from the Federal Government’s $2 billion National Bushfire Recovery Fund.

“The needs of farmers for whom bushfire has destroyed and compromised livestock, vegetation, fences, water and other key infrastructure are great and varied,” NFF President Fiona Simson said.

Mr Duff said the only thing that was going to fix some of the problems was rain.

He wanted to know how he could access the grant and when.

“I understand that it’s up to $75,000, so how’s that going to be played out from farmer to farmer?” Mr Duff asked.

‘Disappointed it has taken so long’

On the South Coast of New South Wales, Bombala dairy farmer Matt Broad said the grants were desperately needed.

“Anything at the minute will be greatly appreciated,” he said.

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“It will help with fencing, rebuilding in general, and getting lives back on track.”

Ms Simson said, in its advice to the government, the NFF referenced the success of the $75,000 immediate cash grants administered to flood-affected north Queensland cattle producers early in 2019.

“I’m a little bit disappointed that it’s taken this long,” Mr Duff said.

“I thought that after the floods in Queensland the response time was a lot shorter than what it has been to respond to this situation.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the grants would be administered by the states and would flow to those eligible immediately.


Beef and soybean producers Carolyn and David Duff say the grant has been swallowed up by feeding cattle. (ABC Mid North Coast: Luisa Rubbo)

The Duffs had just last week received the $15,000 dollar bushfire grant announced last year but are yet to access any other drought money.

“The paperwork and the red tape that’s involved in accessing RAA [Rural Assistance Authority] money, I mean we applied for it back in August and we still haven’t received anything,” Mr Duff said.

“I think that it just needs to be streamlined, so if this money’s going to be made available a lot easier than what the RAA money is then that would be great.

“There are a lot of people out there who are doing it pretty bloody tough and it might give them a little bit of confidence.”

‘It’s a start’

Mr Duff said a lot of people were already suffering a lot of stress because of the drought.

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Toorooka property on fire

With machinery, pasture, infrastructure, fences, and a cottage destroyed, as well as cattle dead, the Duffs’ business suffered a loss of at least $1.2 million.

“So it’ll be a start, but we’ve got a long road ahead of us,” he said.

The Duffs did not have an income at the moment either.

“All we’re doing is spending it because we’re trying to put the feathers back on the duck after it’s been plucked, so we’ve got to start again,” Mr Duff said.

Just this week the Duffs started working on fixing 17 kilometres of boundary fence and there was 40 kilometres of internal fence to be repaired.

Prior to that they were just putting water infrastructure in and containment paddocks, trying to muster and feed the cattle.

“Half my day is taken up by just feeding here on this one property — there are another two properties that we have to feed as well, so it’s a big challenge,” Mr Duff said.

“It’s head down and bum up just to try and get the jobs done.”

Mr Duff said dealing with drought and now bushfires was a “mammoth task”.

“Personally, we won’t get over this in the short term, it’s going to be a long-term thing,” he said.

“There are a lot of people in the area who are working off farm, still running cattle, and somehow or another they’ve got to try to resurrect their farms.

“I think the funds are going to help the community in a big way because it will put money in people’s pockets to be able to hire people to rebuild.

“I think that possibly now they realise the enormity of this disaster. I’m just grateful that the government has realised that they need to step in and help people.”


The Duffs estimate at least a $1.2 million dollar loss from the bushfires. (Supplied: Carolyn Duff)

‘Farmers were already struggling before the fires’

Mr Broad said people who were eligible would “be mad” not to take up the offer.

“In this area, you have farmers with anywhere from 30 to 1,000 dairy cattle, so for the bigger producers $75,000 may not be enough, but anything is greatly appreciated,” he said.

“The biggest issue for us is access to fodder since there’s been such a large area burnt.

“The price of fodder is going up, which is only exacerbating the problem more.

“There’s also worry about how much fencing material will be available to rebuild on properties.”

Mr Broad was also concerned about dairy farmers leaving the industry because of the fires.

“Farmers here were already struggling before the fires,” he said.

“Ten per cent of dairy farmers were getting out of the industry last year and after these fires I think that’s going to look like a kids’ picnic in comparison.”

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

NSW Government announces $1b fire fund as updated toll of blazes revealed


The NSW Government has committed $1 billion to help rebuild bushfire-ravaged communities, as authorities confirmed blazes have destroyed 1,870 homes around the state this season.

Key points:

  • The money is on top of $200 million already committed by the NSW Government
  • It will be spent on infrastructure
  • The NSW Treasurer said he wanted fire-impacted communities to “thrive”

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced the cash injection this morning, and said her Government was “stepping up”.

The money will go towards repairing and rebuilding damaged infrastructure such as roads, rail lines, bridges, schools, health clinics and communications facilities.

It comes on top of more than $200 million already committed by the State Government, and a $2 billion national fund provided by the Federal Government.

“Of course, we are always standing shoulder to shoulder with those impacted by this devastating catastrophe that’s come to New South Wales,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“We are stepping up to the support.”

The Premier said her Government’s money would be used for infrastructure, while the Federal cash would go directly to people.

“It’s been determined that the Federal Government’s contribution, our [state’s] share of the $2 billion, will go towards direct payments, to individuals, local businesses or councils,” she said.


Firefighters are preparing for another challenging day tomorrow. (ABC News: Brendan Esposito)

The figures come as the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) confirmed 1,870 homes have been razed by bushfires this season — a number likely to rise as assessments continue.

The RFS said a further 753 homes had been damaged this season.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday announced his Government would commit an additional $2 billion over two years to set up a new national bushfire recovery agency.

The agency will be led by former Australia Federal Police commissioner Andrew Colvin.

That investment is in addition to existing assistance available, such as income replacement payments and support from the Defence Force.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the NSW Government was committed to helping fire-affected communities.

“We don’t want simply to rebuild the communities, we want them to thrive, and this $1 billion investment will do just that,” he said.

“We know that this won’t happen overnight’s that this will take time and those who are affected, we say to you that we have your back now and well into the future.”

Fire crews have been taking advantage of cooler conditions this week to prepare for another challenging day tomorrow, with hot weather expected in several areas.

Bureau of Meteorology acting state manager Grahame Reader said temperatures were set to be around the low 40s tomorrow, reaching the mid-40s in Western Sydney, with strong winds stoking fire danger.

“After a relative respite in the weather this week, we are expecting another significant spike in conditions tomorrow,” he said.

Hot and dry north-westerly winds will move to a vigorous southerly change in the afternoon, bringing with it gusts of up to 90 kilometres per hour.

Fire danger will reduce over the weekend but the smoke that has been lingering all week is unlikely to dissipate, he said.

Stay across our bushfire coverage:

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

Sydney mum describes running for her life with her kids as bushfire closed in

Tarbuck Bay 2428

A Sydney mother has described how she and her children were forced to flee on foot through the bush as a fast-moving bushfire closed in on the wooden holiday house they were renting.

Tracey Corbin-Matchett and her family were staying in the rental at Tarbuck Bay, north of Newcastle, on Saturday.

She said they had just sat down to eat dinner when her husband Greg noticed something was wrong.

“Hubby went to get a glass of water to have with dinner, and there was no water, so he said, ‘Oh, the power must be out’,” she told the ABC.

“He went [outside] to check the fuse box and saw further down that there was smoke coming up, there must be a fire down at the road, not realising it was actually on our property.”

Ms Corbin-Matchett said the family decided to leave immediately, only taking some clothes with them in the car.

See how Wednesday, January 1 unfolded in our live blog

They figured they wouldn’t be gone too long.


The holiday house in Tarbuck Bay was made of wood and surrounded by bush. (Supplied)

“[We] left behind everyone’s Christmas presents and surfboards and stuff and drove down the driveway of the property, which is quite a long, winding driveway.”

But as they neared the end of the path, Ms Corbin-Matchett said they realised the fire was right in front of them. Strong winds had brought down a tree at the edge of the property, which then knocked over a power line, sparking the blaze.

Making matters worse, the fallen tree and powerline were blocking the end of the driveway.

“We had to reverse back up the driveway, with the car in reverse as the fire was chasing us, thinking that if we could sort of scramble into the house it would be safe,” she said.


Ms Corbin-Matchett (second from right), her daughters Sage and Aurora and son Zahn (centre), all had to flee the property on foot — her husband Greg (second from left) stayed behind. (Supplied)

‘My son only had socks on — he ran like a champion’

Back inside, the family realised staying put was not a safe option either.

“By the time we got to the house, fire had come over the balcony,” Ms Corbin-Matchett said.

In video footage shot by one of her teenage daughters, flames are seen shooting up trees just near the edge of the wooden balcony. Ms Corbin-Matchett can be heard in the background, talking to emergency services over the phone.

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“Hubby in his quick thinking said, ‘Get out of the house, this is not going to be safe, you guys run through the bush,'” she said.

“My son only had socks on, he’s only nine — he ran like a champion. My daughters are 17 and 15, they just ran.

“I was running on pure adrenaline, it honestly felt like I was running through quicksand … I was trying not to show panic, but I was absolutely panicked.”

Ms Corbin-Matchett and her children ended up in a neighbouring property owned by an elderly couple, who she said were “a bit surprised” to see them running into their backyard.

The NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) soon arrived and sent a truck to the holiday house, helping Mr Matchett get the family’s car off the property through a back way, avoiding the downed powerline.

“The RFS came, they were amazing. They’re so calm and they just know what to do, what to say,” Ms Corbin-Matchett said.

“They were cuddling the kids, the waterbombers were going over, they were giving us instructions on where to go and how to get out.”

‘It just happened in a minute’


The holiday house in Tarbuck Bay, seen from the water. The Matchett family are not sure if it survived the fire. (Supplied)

The fire ended up circling back towards the neighbouring property, which also needed to be evacuated.

Ms Corbin-Matchett said the elderly couple, who had a little wildlife sanctuary on their property, were picked up by friends and taken somewhere safe.

“I hope for that beautiful old couple — that was their home that they’ve lived in for a very long time — that it’s okay and that their animals are okay,” she said.

“We don’t know what the [holiday] house is like, it was pretty close, as you can see from the video, the flames were right on the house … Hubby’s gone back today to see what’s left.”

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Now back home in Sydney, Ms Corbin-Matchett said what happened to her family could happen to anyone, and praised the “brilliant” work of the RFS firefighters who helped them.

“We were literally just sitting down for a lovely roast lamb dinner, ready to go for a surf — just the quintessential Aussie holiday — and that happens.”

The Smiths Lake area where the family was holidaying did not have any active fires at the time of the blaze, so there were no warnings in place at the time.

“It was a bit of a series of unfortunate events, but we’re very lucky, we’re back home today in the Shire thanking our lucky stars that we are safe,” Ms Corbin-Matchett said.

“It just happened in a minute, and with no warning, absolutely no warning.”

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

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