The aftermath of the Gregory River bush fire, which had started last December. Picture: Mike Knott.
The aftermath of the Gregory River bush fire, which had started last December. Picture: Mike Knott.

How to access the millions set aside for fire recovery

BUNDABERG could be eligible for some of the $448.5 million announced as part of the Federal Government's Regional Bushfire Recovery and Development Program.

Fires in the area within the last year such as at Woodgate and Gregory had minimal impact in comparison to the intensity of the fire season elsewhere in the country during which 33 people died.

Yet Senator Susan McDonald said the economic impact of fires in Bundaberg had been $23 million in the last season, which was the fifth highest she listed among Queensland local areas.

"During the devastating 2019-20 bushfire season, the economic impact to the agriculture, tourism and forestry industries in southern Queensland was $198 million," she said.

"Strong economic recovery in fire-affected regions will enable families and businesses to get back on their feet sooner and rebuild their lives."

The recovery fund is divided into four key areas, which will target forestry, native wildlife and habitats, community wellbeing, and telecommunications, and Senator McDonald said the aim was to use local knowledge to determine how the funding was used effectively.

Hinkler MP Keith Pitt said the funding boost had the ability to support local projects and recovery.

He said it was important that Bundaberg was able to express how the recovery happened.

"This program is an opportunity for the community to share ideas and projects with the National Bushfire Recovery Agency through the state government who will work with local governments to rollout support as quickly as possible," Mr Pitt said.

"If you have a project that you think might be relevant to our region's economic planning efforts, talk to the Bundaberg Regional Council.

"Council will then speak to the Queensland State Government."

A Bundaberg Regional Council spokesman said it was aware of the funding but needed further clarification about how much it could apply for, or which state government body it would work through.

It was considering applying for part of the $150 million reserved for native wildlife and habitats funding, which would be available from July 1.

That funding could be used for regeneration work, waterway and catchment restoration as well as erosion, weed, and pest control.

Bundaberg and District Chamber of Commerce president Tim Sayre said the economic impact of bushfires for Bundaberg in the last season had been minor, particularly in comparison to COVID-19 and drought.

"But anything the government can do to assist our regions with recovery methods is always welcomed," Mr Sayre said. The effects of these three issues recently had compounded on regional economies, he said.



WARNING: 12 common scams to watch out for this Christmas

Premium Content WARNING: 12 common scams to watch out for this Christmas

TIS the season for online scams in the Burnett region, so keep your eyes peeled for...

My son is not a terrorist, says devastated mum

Premium Content My son is not a terrorist, says devastated mum

The mother of a Bundaberg man charged with a terrorism offence has taken to social...

Simple tips to help keep family, friends safe in water

Premium Content Simple tips to help keep family, friends safe in water

Bundaberg Surf Life Saving Club president John McGregor said beach patrols were...