Senator for Western Australia Zhenya ‘Dio’ Wang has welcomed reassurances from the Federal Government that it stands ready to respond to any request by the WA Government to activate jointly-funded disaster relief to help the Esperance community recover from devastating wildfires.
In question time today, Senator Wang asked the Attorney-General about progress between the WA and Federal governments towards the activation of Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements, which provide for emergency payments to individuals who have suffered personal hardship and help state and local governments with the restoration of essential public assets and small businesses, primary producers and not-for-profit organisations to get back on their feet.
Senator Wang also asked what the Federal Government was doing to ensure the people of Esperance had sufficient mobile telecommunications services – including the pending installation of mobile communications towers – which let the remote community down in its hour of need.
“The Attorney-General confirmed that while an application had not yet been received from the WA Government to activate NDRRA for the Esperance fires, the Commonwealth would liaise with the WA Government on the disaster recovery efforts and ‘seek to be responsive’ to provide help where it could under the NDRAA guidelines,” Senator Wang said.
“This sort of help will be greatly appreciated by the Shire of Esperance community, which not only tragically lost four lives but which also, according to early estimates, suffered losses of about $150 million in a bumper harvest-ready crop, about 4500 livestock, several homes and farming infrastructure, and public assets that are yet to be accounted for.”
Senator Wang also welcomed a separate commitment in the Senate today by the Government’s WA Senators to address outstanding mobile communications infrastructure to be installed in the region.
“Remote and regional Western Australians have just as much right as metropolitan-based people to be able to access sufficient communications technology – not only in emergencies, but every day – and I look forward to seeing these matters resolved in the days and months ahead,” he said.