Region’s Determination & Kindness Shows

Prime Minister

When I visited Eugowra in late 2022, the town had been devastated by floodwaters.

Roads and bridges had been destroyed, homes had literally been moved hundreds of metres from where they had been built.

I met people who’d been rescued by helicopter and by boat and heard the tragic stories of others who had lost their lives.

When I was in Eugowra a few weeks ago, you could still see signs of the damage that had been done, as well as the rebuilding work underway. Above all, you could sense the spirit of a community determined to bounce back.

Local Member Andrew Gee introduced me to Max and Kay, they lost their home and most of their possessions during the floods. None of it was insured.

They used some grant money to take out a small mortgage on their house to repair and rebuild and they moved into that home just before Christmas last year.

It was an honour to speak with them, to see how proud they were of their new home and to hear their stories.

Max told me that during the floods, he’d met people who were volunteering to help in Eugowra from Forbes. At the time, Forbes was itself underwater and the locals weren’t able to help out until the floodwaters had receded, so they’d driven to Eugowra to help their neighbours in their time of need.

It was an extraordinary story of courage, compassion and selflessness. Qualities I see on display in so many communities affected by natural disasters, from Lismore to the Gold Coast and more recently Far North Queensland.

The reality of climate change means that extreme weather and natural disasters are more and more a part of our national life, all over our continent.

Yet whenever I visit communities affected by the worst of nature, I see the best of the Australian character. The determination to rebuild, the resilience to carry on, the kindness that puts others first.

Our Government is determined to do everything we can to stand by Australians doing the work of recovery and we’ll continue to work with the New South Wales Government to support Eugowra, Forbes and the region.

Recently we announced in partnership with the State Government that four local Governments could apply for a share of $25 million Community Assets Program.

This will help repair assets such as parks, walkways, community buildings, and tourism and recreational facilities.

We’ve also provided $20 million to match a contribution by NSW to deliver a ‘Resilient Homes’ type program for the Central West.

This is supporting NSW Reconstruction Authority to undertake consultation with councils and the local community to inform the approach to a buyback program. Consultation with councils and the local community is already underway to deliver the best possible design.

This is on top of an additional jointly funded $600 million, for the floods including Eugowra, provided since late 2022.

Whenever MPs and Senators are in Canberra, we are surrounded by huge slabs of Eugowra granite, quarried in the 1980s to build the famous curving walls of the new Parliament House.

Just as Eugowra helped build Parliament, every Member of Parliament has a responsibility to help rebuild Eugowra and the region it calls home.

We know it won’t be easy, we know it will take co-operation from state and local government, as well as a power of work from the community. Our Government will do everything we can to help, every step of the way.

This opinion piece was first published in the Forbes Advocate on Thursday, 11 April 2024.

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