Australian PM launches bushfire recovery agency
The Australian government launched the National Bushfire Recovery Agency which would be funded with an initial two billion Australian dollars (1.38 billion U.S. dollars) on Monday.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Deputy PM Michael McCormack and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg on Monday committed to “do whatever it takes, to do whatever it costs” to help Australia recover from the ongoing bushfire crisis, which has killed 24 people since September, and “build our resilience for the future.” Morrison said the National Bushfire Recovery Agency would be funded with an initial two billion Australian dollars to ensure the families, farmers and business owners hit by these “unprecedented bushfires” to get the support they needed as they recover.
“It’s a long road ahead and we will be with these communities every step of the way as they rebuild,” Morrison said in a media release. “While the immediate focus for our emergency services and the Australian Defence Force (ADF) is keeping people safe and defending against the fires hitting so many areas, we also need to be ready to hit the ground in communities where the fire-front has passed to help them rebuild. “The Agency will ensure the work of state and territory governments is being supported and act as a ‘one stop shop’ central team to coordinate the response. We will do whatever it takes.” The recovery agency will be led by former Australian Federal Police (AFP) Commissioner Andrew Colvin.
In addition to rebuilding affected areas, the agency will also provide support to farmers, small business owners and residents who have lost their properties and livelihoods. Mental health support for affected communities will also be a major focus. About six million hectares of land has burned since September, according to local media. The government has deployed up to 3,000 ADF reserve forces to help with recovery and evacuation in an unprecedented move.
“What I can tell you is that the focus of the ADF today is to be making assessments of the need, and to work with the various state agencies as to how best they can now move forward and meet those needs in the critical areas,” Morrison said on Sunday. Angus Campbell, the Chief of the Defence Force, said that his forces would be “focused on safety of life, evacuation of people seeking to leave -affected areas, support and access to isolated communities, and support to state evacuation centres.”