JMR – with Susan McDonald, Shadow Minister for Northern Australia
Small businesses in north Western Australia are unable to access vital flood recovery grants while the Emergency Management Minister blames the State for the delay.
Emergency Management Minister, Murray Watt, told a Senate Estimates hearing this week that small business grants were not available in the Fitzroy Crossing and Kimberley areas devastated by Cyclone Ellie because the State had not yet completed an assessment.
Shadow Minister for Emergency Management, Senator Perin Davey, said the rollout of Commonwealth Disaster Payments was welcome but the availability of small business and primary producer disaster grants was desperately needed to get businesses going again.
Shadow Minister for Northern Australia, Senator Susan McDonald, said Minister Watt needs to ensure the same performance standards are applied in all States to roll out small business grants.
“When disaster hit in North Queensland in 2019, the then Prime Minister was on the ground within days, and ensured that application processes were simplified, and these grant programs were rolled out within weeks,” she said.
“Our Government also worked with the State to follow up with targeted assistance grants to help those regions recover.
“Meanwhile, WA businesses have been waiting over a month.
“They are hurting and in need of funding to get themselves and their businesses back on track.
“We need to know what the Minister is doing to ensure small businesses are supported, and mental health issues resulting from this flood are minimised,” Senator McDonald said.
Senator Davey acknowledged the unique challenges in northern Australia which is why it is imperative to get businesses going again as soon as possible.
“Murray Watt has admitted he held high expectations when he applied pressure to the previous Coalition Government to get assistance to affected communities moving faster,” she said.
“He lifted the bar on community expectations, he must now meet those expectations.
“It is time for Murray Watt to hold himself to the same high standards he expected of the previous Government,” Senator Davey said.