Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said he is confident the state will be prepared to handle the coronavirus pandemic and bushfire season but admits “it won’t be an easy summer”.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the state will be ready to handle the upcoming bushfire season, but admits it will not be easy.
His comments come as the state government announced more than $110 million for bushfire-affected communities to help their long-term economic recovery.
“Every season is a challenge. Just because we had thousands of hectares burnt last summer doesn’t mean we will be immune,” Mr Andrews told reporters on Sunday.
“Our active assumption every year is that the next season will be worse than the last one.”
He is confident planning will be in place despite authorities also juggling Australia’s worst coronavirus outbreak.
“I am very confident we can have multiple things (the coronavirus pandemic and bushfires) planned out at the same time.”
“But it won’t be an easy summer, not if 2020 has gone the way it has been.”
To be rolled out during the next 12 to 18 months, the funding comes as the mammoth clean-up effort following the devastating 2019-2020 bushfires nears completion.
Released as part of the State Recovery Plan released on Sunday, the money will be spent on getting communities back on their feet.
“We’re delivering 18 critical, region-wide projects right now, and a further $34.3 million for projects shaped and supported by local communities into the future,” Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville said.
More than 700 properties have been cleared with planning advice available for bushfire-affected households seeking to rebuild.
The Andrews government has pledged $78.06 million towards infrastructure and community rebuilding projects including the repair of roads, environmental repair and re-forestation and higher-quality, temporary housing for bushfire victims.
Money has also been put aside for legal support, local councils and $4.8 million towards Aboriginal community organisations, businesses and infrastructure.
An additional $34.3 million will go towards the Local Economic Recovery program – matching a previous contribution by the federal government – earmarked for projects by councils and recovery groups.
However, Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien questioned the timing of the announcement, claiming the funding had already been allocated.
“Putting an old gift in a new box doesn’t make it a new present,” he told reporters.
“What the government has done here seems to have been to re-announce previously announced money in a new package today.”
More than 1000 properties were destroyed and five people died in the Victorian bushfires, which directly affected more than 120 communities in East Gippsland and northeast Victoria.