Victims of the summer bushfire crisis in the Hawkesbury have been dealt a blow after the Prime Minister confirmed that he would not extend the HomeBuilder scheme deadline to help them rebuild, Federal Macquarie MP Susan Templeman said.
In June, Ms Templeman called for special consideration for bushfire victims around the December 31 deadline for the program, which provides $25,000 to stimulate new home construction or renovations.
However, in a letter to Labor leader Anthony Albanese received on July 1, the Prime Minister confirmed the deadline would not be extended.
"This is yet another blow for people already struggling following a catastrophic event," Ms Templeman said.
"At the six-month mark, some people are still just trying to get back on their feet, let alone get all the things in place to sign a contract.
"I've spoken to many Hawkesbury and Blue Mountains bushfire survivors.
"For families like the Keziks in Bilpin, they've only just found out likely BAL ratings on their land and now they have to choose a location and design for a new home, get all the relevant council and RFS approvals, plus work out how to cover the difference between the insurance and the actual coat of the rebuild.
Chris Kezik doubted the family would be able to meet the deadline in time.
""I very much doubt we will meet the deadline, with all the assumed delays through council. We are only just starting the process with builders," he said.
"The BAL rating took its time, and coronavirus slowed it up."
Ms Templeman said that people are making these huge life decisions while they still coming to terms with the losses they have endured.
"A total of 41 houses were destroyed in the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury in the bushfires, with another 23 severely damaged. So that leaves 41 households potentially missing out on a much-needed $25,000 through HomeBuilder that would help them rebuild," she said.
"To access this scheme, you've got to sign a contract to build a new house by New Year's Eve. It's just unfair to put unnecessary pressure on people to speed up their decisions.
"What we saw in the 2013 Winmalee bushfire was that less than a third of people had started rebuilding within a year."
Ms Templeman said Labor asked the Prime Minister to use a bit of common sense and extend the scheme only for the people who lost their homes so they can get a helping hand after a terrible tragedy, and our local tradies could start to get back on the job, but he said no.
"Our community felt abandoned by the Prime Minister as he holidayed in Hawaii during the bushfires, and now they're being left behind yet again," she said.
"This scheme could give people a helping hand after the bushfires, as well as help save the jobs of tradies and small local construction businesses. The least the Prime Minister that abandoned this community during the bushfires could do is to show some common sense and show that the government cares."