The Nationals Member for Shepparton District, Kim O’Keeffe, has said it is hard to believe that one of the hardest hit regions devastated by flooding, has been left empty-handed by the Albanese Labor Government’s $1.8 billion disaster recovery plan.
While every other state will receive advance disaster recovery payments for declared natural disaster areas, Victorians miss out due to Premier Daniel Andrews’ refusal to declare the October 2022 floods as such.
Ms O’Keeffe said immediate support to rebuild roads and essential public assets and infrastructure is critical.
“Local governments are facing significant challenges in repairing the extensive damage to infrastructure caused by the floods, and an advanced payment would have presented an incredible opportunity to fast-track these much-needed repairs,” she said.
“It is unfortunate Victoria is unable to access any of the $1.8 billion. While New South Wales will receive $900 million in advanced payments for reconstruction costs, we get nothing, spelling devastation for Victorian communities that are still struggling eight months on.”
“It will take years to recover and rebuild flood-damaged infrastructure, and it is devastating to think that we are not able to turn to these funds due to the Andrews Labor Government’s failure to support our community,” said Ms O’Keeffe.
In October last year, the Liberals and Nationals called on the Andrews Labor Government to declare a natural disaster in flood-impacted local government areas. The declaration would have made Victorian local government areas eligible for the advance payments.
“The Andrews Labor Government did not listen to the Coalition, to councils or to communities during the flood, but the Government must acknowledge that this crisis has not passed us by and that it remains a stark reality for affected communities.
“The impact of this disaster continues to be felt by the many who are still displaced, by those driving on our flood-damaged roads where damage to cars and road trauma are a big concern, and waiting to use vital public assets that were closed during the emergency.
“Amid Labor’s spiralling debt, Victorians are now being unfairly burdened with the costly recovery bill, while other states receive additional financial assistance.
“Victorians are being punished for Labor’s incompetence, and the State Government must prioritise support to ensure flood-affected communities receive the assistance they desperately need,” said Ms O’Keeffe.