NSW minister defends bushfire recovery

NSW minister defends bushfire recovery

03 December 2013

published by www.theaustralian.com.au

Australia — THE NSW government has struck a Blue Mountains bushfire clean-up agreement with insurance giant Allianz, but the mayor says recovery efforts are dragging.

NSW Services Minister Andrew Constance on Tuesday toured the devastated communities west of Sydney.

An operation to clean up those homes destroyed in the October fires has been underway since last week.

“Pleasingly, the NSW government has today reached an agreement with Allianz for them to also get on with the clean up of properties,” Mr Constance said in a statement.

He said the NRMA and Suncorp were already working on a combined 15 sites.

“It will be months as opposed to weeks by the time this work is complete,” he told Fairfax Radio.

“That’s the experience in places such as Tasmania, where it took five months to clean up after their fire emergency last year.”

Mayor Mark Greenhill welcomed the extension, and news that Allianz had reached an agreement with the government.

But he says the clean up approach taken in the mountains is “fundamentally wrong”, and Blue Mountains residents have waited longer to see work start than those affected in major bushfires elsewhere.

“Nearly seven weeks after the fires, we’ve had no blocks completely cleared,” he told AAP.

“We know it’s going to take a long time to do – the point is it’s taken them a long time to start.”

Mr Greenhill has called for a single contractor to handle the recovery, and will take it up with Mr Constance when the minister attends a community meeting in Winmalee on Thursday.

Blue Mountains recovery co-ordinator Phil Koperberg’s role has been extended until the end of January.

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