Media release: We Must Future-Proof Community Infrastructure

Media release: We Must Future-Proof Community Infrastructure Main Image

Since the bushfires, I have spoken with so many local community groups about their experience and they all tell me the same thing – we need to start future-proofing our community infrastructure now.

Last week, Anthony Albanese and I met with the Durras Progress Association to hear firsthand about what needs to be done, and it’s a similar story all along the coast.

When your community has one road in and one road out, you need to make sure that during an emergency the lights are kept on and communication is reliable. In 2020, you shouldn’t lose your phone and internet just because the power went out, and it shouldn’t take weeks for power to be restored because the wooden poles were destroyed.

So I feel absolutely flabbergasted that in 2019/20, the Morrison Government did not spend a single dollar of its $200 million disaster recovery fund, including the dedicated $50 million for disaster mitigation. The government said the fund was not needed – but clearly the Prime Minister has not been listening. There is so much to be done.

Everywhere I go, I hear about how we need emergency power in our community halls and fire-proof electricity poles. We need to bring forward the funding for the Princes Highway and make sure we have reliable telecommunications, including fixing the black spots along the highway.

I’ve heard too many stories about the lack of disability access in our evacuation centres. People living with a disability had nowhere to go and in too many cases it was up to their advocates or carers to go it alone. This is just unacceptable.

Perhaps these funds could be used to build a dedicated Emergency Operations Centre in Moruya, instead of forcing our response teams to work in a local community hall on trestle tables from Bunnings.

The government must start getting serious about ensuring the experience of so many local people during the summer bushfires never happens again.

The response needs to start in our communities and I will continue fighting to make sure we get the support we need to prepare.

This article was first published in the Bay Post/Moruya Examiner on Friday 31 July 2020.