Minister visits landholders
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
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.