Seroja funding drip-feed raises alarms as cyclone and bushfire season begins

The Opposition has raised the alarm over the McGowan Labor Government’s failure to prepare for impending natural disasters and emergencies in WA, during Non-Government Business this week.

Shadow Emergency Services Minister Martin Aldridge MLC said he was concerned about WA’s preparedness to combat new emergencies while managing recovery from previous disasters, with new figures showing just a fraction of funding for Cyclone Seroja recovery has been disbursed.

“Western Australia is bracing for an above-average cyclone season yet there are communities, particularly in the Mid West, still recovering from Cyclone Seroja,” Mr Aldridge said.

“Figures revealed in Parliament show just $7.7 million of the State Government’s $104.5 million recovery package has been delivered to families, businesses and communities impacted by Cyclone Seroja over 18 months ago.

“This includes just $519,000 being disbursed from the largest funding stream – the Recovery and Resiliency Grants program – which has a total of $45 million allocated towards it.

“The slow rollout of funding and delays in recovery due to construction and supply pressures has left many residents unable to complete rebuilds of their homes as we enter what is forecast to be another challenging cyclone season.”

Mr Aldridge also accused the McGowan Labor Government of using weasel-words to claim credit for millions of dollars of funding raised through private donations to mask the slow rollout of Government support.

“When asked directly about the status of the $104.5 million disaster recovery funding, the Minister presented Parliament with a table which included several funding programs not related to this fund, including more than $8 million raised by the Lord Mayors Distress Relief Fund,” he said.

“Attempting to claim credit for millions of dollars in private donations while its own coffers are bulging is the height of indecency and wretched behaviour from a Government that hasn’t done its job.”

Mr Aldridge said the McGowan Labor Government had also failed to complete numerous After Action Reviews into major natural disasters, ahead of the upcoming high threat period.

“The delay in releasing the review into Cyclone Seroja, which the Opposition has asked for since December last year, is a missed opportunity to implement lessons learnt from one of WA’s biggest ever natural disasters ahead of the cyclone season,” Mr Aldridge said.

Mr Aldridge also raised concerns about the shortage of Department of Fire and Emergency Services technicians and an ageing fleet ahead of the southern region high-threat fire period.

“We should not be going into another potentially severe bushfire season short-staffed, with resources stretched too thin,” Mr Aldridge said.

“The McGowan Labor Government must outline how it plans to address this shortage and ensure firefighting vehicles will be fit-for-operation and safe for crews ahead of the bushfire season.”