Why were the Lake Clifton fires not a natural disaster?

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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.

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