The final word on natural disaster declaration.
The Premier, Colin Barnett MLA has written to our local member, Murray Cowper MLA, with a final rejection of our request for the fire last year to be declared a natural disaster. Murray Cowper has pushed very hard for this declaration, even raising a grievance in Parliament which is a most unusual step for a member of a party in government. Thank you Murray for your valiant efforts.
Your Progress Association has also been very vocal and has raised numerous issues regarding costs that we consider should have been incurred and what costs could have been taken into account. We did have some success – at least the Federal Government activated the Australian Government Disaster Relief Payment (AGDRP) arrangements even though these are not normally activated unless there is a natural disaster declaration. The AGDRP provided some extra financial compensation for all those affected. Our thanks go to our Federal Member Mr Don Randall MHR, for his assistance in lobbying the federal government.
It is appropriate to acknowledge the assistance that was provided by some very generous people and organisations. The list below is undoubtedly incomplete for several reasons including reluctance by some to seek acknowledgement. It certainly does not attempt to include the help provided by many locals to one another in the true Australian spirit of mateship. This assistance was given generously and moved many people to tears.
- The Lord Mayor’s appeal raised over $500,000 which has been distributed to those worst affected.
- The State Government provided $3,000 to those who lost houses and $1,000 to those who were homes were seriously damaged.
- Alcoa offered up to ten homes for those who lost their houses – we understand that one of these was accepted gratefully by a family.
- Several contractors provided free demolition and removal services. It is not possible to list all of these contractors, some of whom simply donated their equipment and time whilst others were subsidised by companies such as BHP. The total value of the services provided was huge.
- Local service clubs such as the Rotary Clubs of Pinjarra, Harvey and Collie spent many days over a long period helping with cleanup, fencing and other essential jobs.
- Bendigo Bank raised about $85,000 all of which was distributed to those who were seriously affected.
- Many local businesses gave affected people very good deals.
Some people feel that the current system of assessing whether a natural disaster has occurred needs to be reviewed. Based on the amount of damage to government infrastructure, it does not take account of costs to Western Power (a fully government owned but “privatised” entity) and also makes no assessment of the human costs. Certainly it is easy for bureaucrats to add up the numbers and in many cases such as the fires in the Perth hills and in Margaret River, the present formula has worked. But it did not work for Lake Clifton and we will attempt to have the whole issue reviewed. Even if a review is undertaken, it will be a long slow process and any changes to the process will not benefit people affected by this fire.
The anniversary last month was obviously a very sad time for many people. Let’s hope that 2012 is a much happier year.
A reminder that if you were affected by the fires in January (including evacuation) you may be eligible for a payment under the Australian Government Disaster Relief arrangements. Closing date for submitting a claim is 8 September.
Many of you know Monty and are aware of the huge contribution she made after the fires in January. In fact, so many people appreciated her dedication and support that over 30 people signed a letter of commendation to her boss, the Commissioner of Police.
The Commissioner has now acknowledged that letter and copies of both letters are posted below.
Once again Monty – a huge thank you from all of us.
Letter to Commissioner
Reply from Commissioner
One of the members of the community who lost their passports in the recent fires has been able to get them replaced.
· Ring 131 232 and explain that the Passport was lost in the Lake Clifton Bushfire. That office is fully aware of the Lake Clifton Bushfire.
· A form will be emailed to you, for you to fill in. The form is a Form B-11, “Application for an Australian travel document” “General declaration by passport applicant when a passport is lost or damaged in a declared natural disaster”.
· If you do not have an email or printer capability, the forms may be picked up at an Official Post Office.
· Complete the forms and lodge them at an Official Post Office (not a Post Office Agency).
· You will receive a call from the Passport Office and will be requested to scan and email some official form of identity – such as a Drivers Licence showing you as residing at the address where the Passport was destroyed. A Utility bill of some sort may be used as an alternative.
· Once again, if you don’t have scanning capability, it is probably Ok to mail the documents.
· You will receive another phone call and asked a series of questions about your identity, which would have been provided when you first applied for your Passport.
· Your replacement Passport should then be approved.
The entire process from initial phone call, to delivery to the door of the replacement Passport took 10 days.
I have just received several DVD’s from Sally Talbots Member for South West Region on “Bushfire Recovery for Private Land” A snapshot of environment management.
It is a series of short documentaries focusing on land recovery and addresses some of the common land issues that private land holders expect to face in the initial years following a bushfire.
The chapters focus on: Native vegetation, Weeds, Native Fauna, Erosion, Farm productivity and community recovery.
If anyone would like a copy phone me on 0427 442 781.
I have some news today from Don Randall’s office.
If you received the AGDRP you should exempt from paying the flood levy.
If you lost your passport due to the fires, contact Department of Immigration and they will help you out.
If you have any issues contact Don Randall’s office.
Why were the Lake Clifton fires NOT a natural disaster??
We are told that we do not meet the criteria for declaration of a natural disaster because it did not cost the state $240,000
People in Kelmscott and other areas that were burnt on 5 February can access VERY substantial benefits that Lake Clifton people cannot get – but the individual people are in exactly the same situation.
Various people have been trying very hard to get a declaration but find it extremely difficult to obtain information or get past the bureaucracy.
We have not previously publicised these efforts but in frustration we have recently started a media campaign.
A number of residents have requested a meeting so we can decide if we want to continue the fight and how we should go about it.
Come along and hear what has happened so far and to have your say on where we should go from here.
The Lake Clifton fires have not been declared to be a natural disaster. This means that people who were impacted are unable to access the following benefits from the Federal Government:
- $1,000 per adult and $400 per child
- Free replacement of passports
- Exemption from the flood levy
- Up to $10,500 for replacement of white goods etc
- Up to $10,000 for rebuilding assistance
There may be more benefits – these are the ones we know about.
The people in the Cities of Armadale, Canning and Swan and the Shires of Chittering and Serpentine Jarrahdale can access these funds even though there were a number of different fires on 5 February, some of which did much more damage than others. The natural disaster declaration lumped all of these together as a “Severe Bushfire Weather Event” but we cannot find any guidelines or rules that allow such a declaration. It appears that some of these people have been treated VERY differently to the people here in Lake Clifton!
You may also have seen the Channel 9 News late last week and heard the comment that the State is paying for demolition of houses in Kelmscott. We are attempting to find out the facts and will let you know if this story is true.
Ever since 10 January, your Progress Association has been asking why there has been no declaration of a natural disaster. We have lobbied politicians and bureaucrats and even written to the Premier. The decision on such a declaration is made by FESA who say that our fires did not meet the criteria – basically a cost to the State on “eligible expenditure” of $240,000. We know that the 60 or so power poles that were burnt have not been included in the calculation (seems very strange) but neither we nor our local member Murray Cowper have been able to find out exactly what has been included so we are not able to check if the calculation has been done in accordance with the published guidelines.
Through the good offices of Murray Cowper and Don Randall MHR, the Minister’s office has asked FESA for an explanation but this has been slow in coming.
We have avoided saying too much in public or on this web site until now as we were concerned that people may be upset by the lack of a declaration or that we may create an unrealistic expectation. However the issue is now being escalated and may very soon become public. Murray Cowper is further increasing his efforts on our behalf, David Templeman (MLA for Mandurah) has offered to assist and the media is looking into the whole question. Keep an eye on the West!
There have been many other disasters since 10 January, each of them worse than the last and some of us feel that this has led to our disaster being forgotten. But the people who lost their homes or whose properties were damaged in Lake Clifton are affected, financially and emotionally, as much as people anywhere else in the same situation. Being treated differently compounds the problem and we will continue our campaign for a fair go!!
PLEASE – if you support our efforts, leave a comment so that we can tell the politicians and bureaucrats that the locals are not happy. Alternatively, phone Tracey or Graeme or write to Murray Cowper or Minister Johnson or the Premier.
The link below will download a list of species that Men of the Trees are propagating and that are suitable for re-vegetation in the fire area. It would help them if you could indicate now the species you would like to have for your property so that they can ensure sufficient of each type are available.
It is difficult to believe but it probably will rain in a few weeks and these will need to be planted as soon as the ground is wet enough.