Council advocates on drought, bushfire, coronavirus

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Actions relating to drought and the economic recovery of the region following this summer’s bushfires were endorsed by East Gippsland Shire Council at its May meeting.

Council endorsed a submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry into the Federal Government’s Response to the Drought, and later in the meeting resolved to thank federal and state governments for their support post-bushfires.

The parliamentary inquiry is looking at the federal government’s drought response and the adequacy and appropriateness of policies and measures to support farmers, regional communities and the Australian economy.

Council’s submission provided an East Gippsland perspective and focused on the need for local government to be recognised for the role it plays in building a community’s capacity and resilience to drought.

Mayor Cr John White said the drought submission drew on the practical experience of the organisation and the East Gippsland community.

“Council has supported, and is working with, farmers tackling the immediate challenges of drought. Council and other levels of government also need to look to the future to enable a strategic approach to improve the management of the impact of droughts,” Cr White said.

“We believe local government, as the government closest to the community, needs to be empowered to have a more direct leadership role in responding to droughts.

Council’s submission included nine recommendations that covered funding models, response programs and local government’s role.

The timing of the May council meeting coincided with the release of an SGS Economics and Planning report analysing the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and Black Summer bushfires on 12 local government areas, including East Gippsland.

This prompted Cr Joe Rettino to put forward a motion to write to a number of parliamentarians advocating for continued support for East Gippsland.

Cr White said the SGS report garnered state-wide media attention.

“This report put the economic challenges we face back into the media spotlight, so it is an opportune time to write to the Australian and Victorian governments.

“Council resolved to write to the Prime Minister, Victorian Premier, ministers and local politicians to thank them for their support so far and to reiterate the need for long-term support for East Gippsland to aid in our region’s recovery,” Cr White said.

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