Hawkesbury to receive further funding to support its flood recovery

The February and March storms and floods had a massive impact on local farmlands. Picture: Geoff Jones.
The February and March storms and floods had a massive impact on local farmlands. Picture: Geoff Jones.

Hawkesbury will receive a further $400 million in funding to support its recovery from the February and March, 2021 storms and floods.

The further funding comes from the State and Federal governments, under the third phase of the combined recovery support package.

Included is a $200 million Infrastructure Betterment Fund which will support the reconstruction and improved disaster resilience of public assets damaged during the storms and floods, and the 2019-20 bushfires.

Liberal Senator Marise Payne said the latest funding recognised the recovery effort was ongoing.

"Our phase one and two recovery packages were designed to address immediate issues, such as debris removal and emergency loans for businesses, with individuals in the Hawkesbury receiving over $6.8 to date through the Disaster Recovery Allowance," she said.

"I know that the Hawkesbury community has provided valuable feedback to all levels of government, and that has fed into the development of this comprehensive suite of new measures.

"Funding is being directed at the repair and rebuild of major public assets and community infrastructure, in addition to industry-specific support for our local turf and vegetable farmers.

Ms Payne said phase three funding included a dedicated funding package for the restoration of riverbanks.

"[This] will assist private landowners, NSW government agencies and councils to ensure post-flood remediation works on riverbanks can be done quickly," she said.

"I particularly acknowledge the work of Hawkesbury City Council ... for their continued support of the community, in addition to Jenny Zadro of Turf Australia, who has been tireless in assisting hard-hit turf farmers."

Hawkesbury MP Robyn Preston welcomed the announcement and said it would go far to helping the community and "allow industries to build back after the setbacks of compounded disasters".

"It will protect jobs, secure important infrastructure and ensure the health and wellbeing of communities," she said.

"This new package of funds recognises the ongoing need to help industries bounce back, keep on staff, rebuild the infrastructure of our towns and safeguard the resilience of our local economies and people.

"The importance of this recovery package can't be underestimated."

Macquarie MP Susan Templeman also welcomed the release of additional financial support.

"These packages always sound impressive, but of course it is still unclear how and when these funds will be divided and delivered," she said.

"There are distinct buckets of funds, for sporting field repair, for primary producers and for businesses.

"The $18.5 million to restore the riverbank is welcome, but there's not detail of how that funding will be shared across the more than 70 Local Government Areas across NSW impacted by the storms and floods, nor exactly who will be able to access it and for what purpose.

"People who missed out on the primary producer and small business grants will be able to apply for a smaller grant of up to $10,000, designed to reimburse rural landholders for the cost of clean-up activities, losses or damages not covered by insurance. That will be welcome by landholders who have off-farm incomes, which was a key reason people weren't eligible."

Ms Templeman said that the package also included additional funds for mental health and wellbeing.

"But I'm not sure $14 million will go far across 70 Local government areas," she said. "I may sound like a broken record, but the investment in a Headspace to help tackle mental health problems for younger people would be the best start as a long term investment a government could make for wellbeing in the Hawkesbury."

People requiring ongoing flood assistance, support and referral are urged to contact Service NSW on 13 77 88 or online via service.nsw.gov.au/floods.

Information on disaster assistance is available on the Australian Government's Disaster Assist website at disasterassist.gov.au.