No money for council's wish list

Bell: After the bushfires of 2019-2020. One of the projects council sought grant money was for post fire weed, erosion control and stormwater works in the badly-affected the village.
Bell: After the bushfires of 2019-2020. One of the projects council sought grant money was for post fire weed, erosion control and stormwater works in the badly-affected the village.

Blue Mountains Council had a list of 24 projects that were ready to go if it had received money from the state government's $177 million bushfire economic recovery fund.

But the Mountains did not get a cent from the early round of the fund. All of the money, apart from $2.5 million to Cessnock and Lismore, went to Coalition-held electorates.

The mayor, Mark Greenhill, attended the parliamentary inquiry into the funds today (February 8). He disputed evidence from deputy premier, John Barilaro, that the projects did not meet the criteria.

Cr Greenhill told the Gazette: "In evidence the deputy premier argued our projects were not shovel-ready. That is not correct. They were. But no one from government ever called me to check if that was so.

"Sadly, I can only conclude the state government didn't care enough about our community to check. That conclusion is devastating."

Mr Barilaro also said the projects had to be worth a minimum of $1 million. Cr Greenhill said that was the first he had heard about any monetary criteria. The total of the 24 projects put forward by council was $5.4 million.

He also said that after learning the Mountains would receive nothing, the council CEO, Dr Rosemary Dillon, had sought information from the state government.

One officer responded, telling her only that the submission had been received.

"But she never came back seeking further information or to tell us why the projects were not successful - despite Dr Dillon persisting," Cr Greenhill said.

The mayor is taking a motion to an extraordinary meeting of council tomorrow night, expressing deep disappointment that none of the $177m went to the Mountains and calling on the state government to rectify that with the next round of funding.

The list of projects submitted by council included:

  • Blackheath Popes Glen and Govetts Leap sub-catchments - post fire weed management, erosion control and stormwater treatment ($84,000)
  • Bushfire preparedness and safety improvements ($70,000)
  • Business outreach officer - supporting local economy recovery ($100,000)
  • Carbon reduction projects ($683,000)
  • Commercial adventure tourism and ecotourism support package ($25,000)
  • City-wide tree asset database ($265,000)
  • Gloria Park sports and play precinct upgrade ($650,000)
  • Mt Riverview RFS toilet renovation ($75,000)
  • Mt Victoria weed, erosion control and stormwater treatment ($37,000)
  • Summerhayes sports precinct upgrade ($465,000)