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Package to aid bushfire and Covid-19-impacted communities

Australian coalition unveils $86 mln for primary producers

The Australian government will unveil $86 mln for primary producers hit by the summer bushfires and the coronavirus pandemic as the byelection contest in Eden-Monaro accelerates into the closing fortnight. The package to be unveiled by the Coalition on Tuesday includes a $31 mln grant fund.

Apple orchards around the inland town of Batlow were decimated during the summer bushfires, and recovery from that catastrophe is front-and-centre in the contest.

The Liberal party’s television advertising in the contest emphasises that the candidate, Fiona Kotvojs, will be able to deliver for constituents hammered by the two disasters because she will be a member of the incumbent government, rather than a member of the opposition.

There has been intense frustration in some of the communities in the bellwether electorate about the slow pace of disaster recovery, and about residents falling between the gaps of the various government assistance programs.

As well as the funding for orchardists, Tuesday’s package includes a $40 mln forestry recovery fund to support processors “navigating future wood supply shortages through innovation and product diversification” and $10 mln for storage facilities for processed timber products, fire-affected logs and other forestry products.

According to theguardian.com, the package also includes a $5 mln grant fund, which will require co-contributions from wine grape producers who experienced crop loss because of smoke taint. The funding will be centred on wine regions that don’t have access to primary producer grants.


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