Min­is­ter vis­its land­hold­ers

Benalla Ensign - - Front Page -

Con­cerned Ste­warton land­hold­ers af­fected by the De­cem­ber fires re­ceived at­ten­tion from the Emer­gency Ser­vices Min­is­ter dur­ing a trip to the re­gion last week.

Emer­gency Ser­vices Min­is­ter Jane Gar­rett ac­cepted the in­vi­ta­tion of State Mem­ber for Euroa Steph Ryan to visit the area af­ter a num­ber of peo­ple af­fected by the re­cent fires raised their con­cerns to Ms Ryan.

Ms Gar­rett joined Ms Ryan at sev­eral prop­er­ties at Ste­warton and Lake Rowan to dis­cuss im­prove­ments that could be made to emer­gency re­sponse dur­ing bush­fires.

‘‘(The trip was) to see first hand how the com­mu­nity was af­fected and how it’s re­cov­er­ing,’’ Ms Gar­rett said.

‘‘I thought it was im­por­tant to hear first hand the lo­cals’ thoughts.’’

Ms Gar­rett said a range of is­sues were dis­cussed, in­clud­ing traf­fic man­age­ment, com­mu­ni­ca­tion and how fire trucks and their teams were used in the blaze.

The min­is­ter has re­quested the Emer­gency Man­age­ment Com­mis­sioner to or­gan­ise a meet­ing with the lo­cals in the area to see what can be done in the af­ter­math.

Ms Ryan said res­i­dents af­fected by the fires have also asked for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

‘‘Land­hold­ers have re­quested an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the fires to en­sure their ex­pe­ri­ence im­proves the man­age­ment of fu­ture emer­gen­cies,’’ she said.

‘‘At Ste­warton, mem­bers of lo­cal brigades — many of whom were per­son­ally im­pacted by the fire — were turn­ing out to pager alerts no­ti­fy­ing them of trees on fire along the Mid­land Hwy for days af­ter­wards, fa­tigue and stress.

‘‘There have also been real con­cerns raised about VicRoads’ com­mu­ni­ca­tion with land­hold­ers about the Mid­land Hwy.’’

The visit came shortly af­ter the La­bor Gov­ern­ment made con­ces­sional loans avail­able for pri­mary pro­duc­ers im­pacted by re­cent bush­fires.

The Cat­e­gory B Con­ces­sional In­ter­est Rate Loans of up to $200 000 will be pro­vided through the jointly-funded Com­mon­wealth-State Nat­u­ral Dis­as­ter Re­lief and Re­cov­ery Ar­range­ment.

In­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing dis­as­ter as­sis­tance can be found at www.dis­as­teras­sist.gov.au and www.re­cov­ery.vic.gov.au. To ap­ply for a con­ces­sional loan, phone Ru­ral Fi­nance Vic­to­ria on 1800 260 425 or on­line at www.ru­ral­fi­nance.com.au

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In­spect­ing the dam­age: David Anker, Mem­ber for Euroa Steph Ryan, Min­is­ter for Emer­gency Ser­vices Jane Gar­rett and Wayne Spinks talk about the re­cent Ste­warton bush­fires.

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