Relief cash welcomed

RELIEF: New Bega Valley mayor Sharon Tapscott has welcome the latest federal announcement. Picture: Albert McKnight
RELIEF: New Bega Valley mayor Sharon Tapscott has welcome the latest federal announcement. Picture: Albert McKnight

The federal government has announced its latest $650 million bushfire relief package, as cleanup work starts on ravaged communities more than four months after the 'Black Summer' devastation.

The package includes $448.5 million to be shared between affected communities to help fund projects and recovery plans via "local voices and local governments", as part of "cost-sharing arrangements" with the state. Bega Valley Shire Council general manager general manager Leanne Barnes welcomed the news this week, and has called on the community to share their recovery ideas.

"I can hear our advocacy and the needs of local communities being reflected in this program. In the dialogue we've had leading up to today's announcement we've strongly made the point that every community is different and that every community is at a different point in their recovery," she said.

"There is not a one-size-fits-all [approach], and this program respects that and gives each of our bushfire impacted communities a voice and allows us to reflect community needs."

Newly elected mayor Sharon Tapscott said raising the height of Brogo Dam "to improve water security and farm sustainability" is just one priority project for local government.

"East-West connectivity via the Snowy Mountains Highway with an upgraded Brown Mountain link supporting B-Double access, as well as the Bega Pool renewal, Merimbula Boardwalk renewal, and town centre revitalisation projects in Eden, Merimbula, Bermagui and Bega - just to name a handful of our priority projects," she said.

"And now that there is money to support these ideas I expect there will be added energy and drive in the conversations we have with our community,"

Prime minister Scott Morrison said the National Bushfire Recovery Agency will need to help as many as 18,600 families and businesses in bushfire-affected areas. Ms Barnes said council has been told the latest round of funding will be fast-tracked "where possible", with job creation a priority.

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