NSW councils cop criticism as funding meant for bushfire recovery goes to ECEC

NSW councils cop criticism as funding meant for bushfire recovery goes to ECEC

by Freya Lucas

May 18, 2020

Local councils in some of the districts most affected by the 2019/2020 summer of bushfires have received criticism for their proposals to spend state and federal recovery funding on upgrading preschool facilities and sporting venues which were not affected by fire, the ABC has reported


While the National Bushfire Recovery Agency has indicated that that councils have
“broad guidelines” about how the recovery funding may be spent, suggesting that money is put to repairing roads and community facilities and hosting recovery events, as well as distribution more broadly, some communities are concerned that money isn’t going where it is directly needed. 


Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie and Guyra, in the Armidale Regional Council Area, have spent bushfire recovery money on refurbishing preschools, the ABC indicated, noting that “in response to the backlash (from those in the community), Coffs Harbour City ended up using other council funds (to refurbish the preschool). 


Another example given by the ABC was of the Shoalhaven, where bushfires destroyed 280 homes, and where the council has allocated $400,000 of Federal funding to upgrade a sporting field which was unaffected by the fires. 


Mayor Amanda Findley told the ABC that she understood why some constituents “might scratch their heads” at the investment, which was chosen based on the refurbishment “driving millions of dollars” into the broader local economy through hosting events such as the Koori Cup. 


The NSW Office of Local Government said in a statement it would provide guidance to councils on their obligations that and funding was subject to audit and assurance processes.


The ABC contacted 36 fire-affected councils across the state to determine how much funding they received, how much they had spent so far and on what. This table is available in the original article, which may be accessed here