Transcript by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Bushfire Recovery – Ch7 Sunrise

Program: Sunrise

*** E & OE – Proof only ***

MEL: Now from New South Wales to Victoria and families affected by the bush fires begin to rebuild so are local businesses and the Government is chipping in offering thousands of dollars in assistance.

MIKE MUNRO: There is also help for the 7,000 left homeless by the fires and here to tell us more is the Commonwealth’ coordinating Minister for the Bush Fire Disaster, Jenny Macklin. Good morning Minister. Can you tell us what does this package mean for local businesses?

JENNY MACKLIN: Yes this is good news and timely news for local businesses. First of all – $5,000 for local businesses that need to rebuild or a tradie who needs to re-tool. On top of that if they need further assistance they can get another $20,000 in grants and if they have major damage to a larger business they can secure up to $200,000 in a low interest loan, 3.2% interest. So all of those measures of assistance are now available and there is also mentoring and advice for people who need it.

MEL: Jenny we had a couple of businesses talking to us earlier this week saying that although they weren’t destroyed by the fires they’ve been helping out a lot of people in the area and they’ve obviously had to put profits on hold, you know vets, hardware, etc. etc. will any assistance be made ever for them, do you think they will be able to get a helping hand?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well another example, we were in Narbethong yesterday at the pub, talking with people, farmers, others who had come in for lunch. That pub has been feeding people now for nearly a week. What we’re looking at is I understand Mr Landy might be offering some support to these businesses really in recognition of the heroic efforts that so many of them have made. As you’ve mentioned, vets, pharmacists, so many people have just been incredibly generous.

MEL: Yes, and just indirectly, you know…….

JENNY MACKLIN: That’s right.

MIKE MUNRO: What about the homeless Minister, what’s happening for them?

JENNY MACKLIN: There’s a wide range of different things happening. Social and other public housing has been made available. Another demonstration of people’s generosity – around 800 caravans have been made available and they’re now being inspected to make sure that they’re up to scratch, so people will be offered those. Every single person who’s now been registered at a relief centre who’s lost their home is being matched up with temporary accommodation. You can imagine the size of the cleanup that has to be undertaken and we have to do that very carefully. That is now the responsibility of the Reconstruction and Recovery Authority led by Major General Cantwell and that has to really go through the proper processes. There’s a lot of dangerous material like asbestos in those places, so that’s going to take a bit of time and that’s why people will need some temporary accommodation until they can rebuild.

MEL: Also I understand I mean given I know the bulk have moved in with family and friends and have been taken in and getting cared for, but you’ve got the evacuation centres due to close in about two weeks from now, so have you made arrangements for those people that are still there in those centres who don’t have anybody nearby to stay with?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well they’re the people who obviously will get the priority for public housing, for caravans. The State Government here in Victoria are really working with those individual families one by one and the relief centres will only close when that community is really ready for it. In a smaller number of places we’re establishing community service hubs, and the Victorian Government will staff those with the Commonwealth’s support.

MEL: Jenny, a quick one before I let you go, anything that you can do for the bush fire residents who are not insured. I think I understand there’s about a third who didn’t have insurance, will they be sort of getting extra help?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well going back to the business assistance that we announced yesterday, that will apply to all businesses. Businesses that did or didn’t have insurance – we understand that all of those businesses are likely to want to rebuild and the same applies to individuals – we’ve made available the emergency payments to people. About $15 million has been paid out now to individuals, adults and their children, and so we’ve done that really we haven’t taken any regard to insurance, it’s just an emergency payment.

MEL: Great, I’m glad it’s just all been, all been so fast, obviously the donations came in in record time.

JENNY MACKLIN: It’s been amazing.

MEL: I bet it’s gone out as quickly. Jenny Macklin good to talk to you, thanks for your time.