‘Massive Problem’ With Bushfire Clean-up: Mayor

Thursday, November 7th, 2013
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More than three weeks after bushfires tore through the Blue Mountains, the region’s mayor says not a single destroyed property has been cleaned up by state or federal authorities.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell granted affected communities access to disaster assistance after 203 families lost homes to ferocious fires around Springwood, Winmalee, Lithgow and Mount Victoria.

The massive fire complex west of Sydney tore through more than 50,000 hectares of bushland, forcing schools to close and hundreds of locals to flee.

Blue Mountains Mayor Mark Greenhill

Blue Mountains Mayor Mark Greenhill

But Blue Mountains Mayor Mark Greenhill says none of 210 properties destroyed by fire have been cleared of debris.

“The main concern I’ve got is the fact that no blocks have been cleared in the three weeks since the fires; that’s too long,” Mr Greenhill told AAP.

“People need to be able to move on with their lives both psychologically and physically.

“The fact that those blocks remain uncleared is a massive problem.”

He says families that lost everything are “sitting around waiting for something to happen” because the rebuilding effort has stalled.

“It’s just not happening,” Mr Greenhill said.

“They (government) need to pull their socks up.

“People are really, really, really getting stressed about the fact that they’re not seeing any action.”

Mr Greenhill says he has heard nothing from state or federal authorities on when the razed properties would be cleared.

“We’re just hearing nothing. There’s promises of action but then no action,” he said.

“(State Emergency Management Committee chairman) Phil Koperberg is doing a great job, he has coordinated the relief effort, but what I’m concerned about is the reconstruction effort.”

Construction efforts are lagging similar efforts that followed bushfire crises in Tasmania and Victoria, he added.

“We do seem to be getting different treatment,” he said.

Acting federal opposition leader Tanya Plibersek says the government needs to adopt a clean-up plan similar to that used after the 2009 Victorian bushfires.

“The Government simply does not understand the issues facing the community and businesses as a result of the most devastating bushfire seen in the Blue Mountains for decades,” Ms Plibersek said in a statement.

“Fire-affected communities in the Blue Mountains are missing out because of the Abbott Government’s inaction.”

The federal government is being sought for comment.

By Sam McKeith
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