Twenty Blue Mountains bushfire recovery projects worth $2.1 million have been funded under a new government program after the Coalition state and federal governments were criticised earlier this year for snubbing the area in economic recovery funding.
NSW Upper House Liberal MP Shayne Mallard sought to use the latest announcement to blunt Labor's recent attacks on the Coalition for favouring its own electorates in bushfire recovery funding allocations.
"Contrary to Labor's fake news and shamefully politicising bushfire recovery funding, this round of grants was always intended to support all impacted communities," he said.
But his comments were rebuffed by Labor's Federal Macquarie MP, Susan Templeman, who pointed out the latest community funding was from a different program to the scheme that overlooked the Blue Mountains.
"After seeing Mr Mallard's comments, I think it's also worth noting that this funding is community recovery money - it's not related to the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund (BLERF), which saw not a single cent of joint Commonwealth and State funding delivered to the Blue Mountains," she said.
"I'm glad they didn't make the same mistake with this community recovery funding, and I look forward to seeing the Blue Mountains' needs well recognised when the second round of economic funding is eventually delivered."
State Blue Mountains MP Trish Doyle said it was "interesting that Mr Mallard accuses Labor of politicising bushfire recovery funding".
"The recent funding rorts by the Liberal Government, with blatant favouring of Coalition held seats, is a classic example of the furthering of their own political agenda. Recovery funding should be based on community need, not political gain. This time around our community has not been overlooked, which is exactly as it should be," she said.
Blue Mountains mayor Mark Greenhill also labelled Mr Mallard's comments as "disappointing".
"The priority at this time should be about supporting our community to recover - after an unprecedented crises period including bushfires, a global pandemic and more recently, flooding," he said.
"It has been widely publicised that Blue Mountains City Council was shocked that our community did not receive a single cent from the NSW Local Economic Recovery Fund, valued at $177 million, despite submitting more than 20 shovel-ready projects."
The mayor said he welcomed the new funding - "but it's still not enough".
"We have a local economy that relies heavily on tourism. Our local businesses have suffered for almost 18 months now.
"Council continues to support our community, and deliver important projects that are stimulating the local economy, during this difficult period. But we can't do it alone.
"We need further funding assistance from the state and federal governments, as the road to recovery will be long for our community."
The 20 Blue Mountains projects are among more than 153 others approved under the second stream of the Bushfire Community Recovery and Resilience Fund (BCRRF).
Liberal Senator Marise Payne said the projects would be driven locally.
"Both state and federal levels of government are yet again putting their support behind community-led solutions," she said.
"The funding package is focused on boosting community well-being, connectedness, social recovery, and future disaster resilience because we know how important this is to our long-term recovery effort.
"I particularly want to acknowledge the Mountains Youth Services Team and the Winmalee Neighbourhood Centre for their important work to date. I am very pleased they are each receiving funding."
Susan Templeman said there were some excellent programs included in the projects that received funding.
"I am delighted to see the support for the youth mental health first aid training for Year 10 students in Blue Mountains public high schools. I was pleased to help kick off fundraising late last year for this very important program, driven by young people, to equip them to better support each other," she said.
"It's also good to see the vision for Mt Wilson to upgrade its village hall facilities being realised, as well as the music program for the community. The funding for both the Mount Tomah community and the Winmalee Neighbourhood Centre, which has been very active in supporting fire-affected communities on the Bells Line of Road, is also very welcome."
Senator Payne said the delivery of BCRRF funding coincides with a variety of supports in response to the NSW storm and flood events which affected the Blue Mountains.
"As a result of the 2019-20 bushfires, over $10 million, representing over 9000 payments, has been directed into the bank accounts of locals under the disaster recovery payment," she said.
"This is the same financial assistance program for which eligible locals are now able to apply for.
"As with our ongoing bushfire recovery effort, the federal government will work hand-in-hand across the community to deliver the essential on-the-ground supports as required."
The full list of Blue Mountains projects are:
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