Now that the Deputy Premier has decided to abandon his Canberra political frolic, the NSW Labor Opposition has called on John Barilaro to re-focus on his day job.
Appointed by Gladys Berejiklian to coordinate the government’s response to the statewide bushfire disaster, John Barilaro has failed to deliver on the government’s promises of a coordinated clean up or economic recovery for bushfire affected communities.
“Instead of daydreaming about a new job in Federal Parliament, John Barilaro should have spent the last five months working on the job he actually had as the Bushfire Recovery Minister,” Labor’s Deputy Leader Yasmin Catley said.
“Five months ago, much of New South Wales was engulfed in flames and thousands of homes were lost to bushfire. Bushfire survivors have been forgotten while State Government Ministers like John Barilaro and Andrew Constance have been locked in backrooms deciding who will run for federal parliament,” Ms Catley said.
Shadow Minister for Natural Resources, Paul Scully said, “Regional communities across New South Wales are doing it tough.
“The devastation of the 2019-20 bushfires and now the havoc inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic has struck blow after blow on local businesses, their workers and communities.
“Forestry and timber-dependent communities, as well as mining communities, face enormous challenges over the next decade”, he said.
NSW Labor developed a comprehensive Forestry Recovery Plan in February 2020, which included:
- APPOINTING a Forestry Recovery Commissioner, along with a timber industry recovery advisory taskforce to guide the implementation of a recovery plan;
- GUARANTEEING the replanting and re-establishment of plantation areas;
- DELIVERING financial support for mill operators to accommodate the additional capital expenditure needed and help to support cash flows during the years of recovery facing the industry;
- REPAIRING damaged roads, fire trails, bridges, power and communications infrastructure in forestry estates;
- ERADICATING weeds and pests, especially blackberries which are a substantial contributor to high fuel loads, and;
- ESTABLISHING a workforce plan for mill workers as the industry runs at lower capacity which is expected in the next two to three years.
Mr Scully said, “We are pleased to see that the Berejiklian-Barilaro Government caved in to Labor’s demand to abandon the privatisation of Forestry Corporation and recently supported our proposal to replant and repair infrastructure as well as helping land owners pay for the rebuild of fire-damaged fences adjoining Forestry Corporation land.
“We now hope the NSW Government will take on board the other ideas NSW Labor has put forward in a bipartisan manner to make sure timber dependent communities recover from the impact of fire devastation and disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Scully also called on the Deputy Premier to open the next round of applications under the Resources for Regions program of which $24 million from the last round remains unallocated.
“The Deputy Premier committed to opening a round of the Resources for Regions program this financial year.
“That’s less than 60-days away and with communities crying out for support, it’s time to get on with it.
“But all of this requires the Deputy Premier to stay focused on his day job without any further distractions”, he said.