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Baw Baw Shire Council calls for more storm relief support from state and federal governments

Baw Baw Shire Council has called on the State and Federal Governments to fulfil their promises and provide more support in the aftermath of the June storm events.

By news@gippsland - 15th November 2021 - Back to News

Noojee and Walhalla in Baw Baw Shire's north were both badly impacted by the severe storms and floods that swept Victoria in June. Now, half a year on and with local tourism demand swinging back into gear post-lockdown, the North Gardens Campground at Walhalla and the playground and carpark at Noojee remain unusable despite repeated Council attempts to secure the $200,000 in relief funding needed for rectification works.

Baw Baw Shire Council is asking the state and federal governments to come forth and fulfil their promises and provide more support in the aftermath of the storm events

Baw Baw Shire Council is asking the state and federal governments to come forth and fulfil their promises and provide more support in the aftermath of the storm events

No guarantee of success

With repeated applications refused, the sole option remaining to council was to seek category C funding. However, this final option brings no guarantee of success, no indication of timelines on the funding and no option to seek retroactive funding for works already carried out.

To meet eligibility, council would have to delay any works to rectify storm impacted assets even further until the funds are received - and there is no indication of when that might be, even if they are successful.

Support ongoing recovery and rebuilding process

On Tuesday 9 November, Minister for Emergency Services Jaclyn Symes announced a $25.7 million package to support the ongoing recovery and rebuilding process across the state. The funding included $21 million to repair the arterial road network that was damaged in the floods and $320,000 to manage continued hazards, recover timber and ensure access for the timber harvest in state forests and adjoining land.

However, there was no funding to rectify the $200,000 in damage to Council's assets at the North Gardens Campground at Walhalla and the playground and car park at Noojee.

Delays and lack of progress

In both Noojee and Walhalla there is already community concern over the delays and lack of progress at both sites. With strong community expectation that the damaged areas be reopened for the summer tourism season to aid recovery - not only from the storm but from COVID-related economic downturns - time is running out.

The lack of support from the state and federal government has been cause for growing disappointment and frustration in the region. Baw Baw Shire Council is now calling on the State and Federal Governments to step up their efforts, fulfil their promises, and help get the embattled region back open for business in time for the summer season.

Gone missing

Mayor Cr Danny Goss said, "If you recall all the publicity that happened at the time of the storms, they all turned up. The politicians were here. The recovery agencies were here. There were promises everywhere. But now they're gone."

"The campground at Walhalla is still closed and the playground and the carpark in Noojee are unusable. The playground was underwater and the carpark - which was brand new, paid for by Baw Baw Shire Council - is ruined. Can't be repaired. It has to be completely rebuilt. But we can't get any money out of the State or Federal Governments. We've got Christmas coming up, we've got tourism. We need to fix these assets." Mr Goss continued.

Fix assets as soon as possible

Mr Goss said, "I want to put this on the record: I don't think it's fair at all for council or the ratepayers of this Shire to cop $200,000 to fix this stuff that was caused by flooding of rivers and streams under the management of government authorities. It's not fair because that's $200,000 that could be used by council on another project somewhere else."

"The state and federal governments have gone missing and we want them to turn up. We want them to keep their promises. We want them to fix the assets that were damaged, and we want them to fix them as soon as possible." Mr Goss concluded.

Pictures from Baw Baw Shire Council website.


Source: http://gippsland.com/

Published by: news@gippsland.com



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