The Liberal Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell has slammed the Andrews Labor Government on its failure to provide grants promised to Barmah residents affected by new firewood collection restrictions.
In response to the Andrews Government’s total ban on firewood collection in the Barmah forest area, it was announced in early May that grants of up to $900 would be available immediately to Barmah residents to assist with the purchase of firewood for the coming winter months. The grants were to be administered by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning with promises of future grants of up to $1000 for residents to help pay to transition their homes to electricity.
In an adjournment matter directed to the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio in State Parliament this week, Ms Lovell said that one month on from the Minister’s promise of immediate help for the people of Barmah, the first grant of up to $900 has not been made available and there is no mention of it on the Department’s website.
Ms Lovell said that when a member of her staff contacted Ms D’Ambrosio’s office last week to inquire about the grants she was told by an advisor that “the grant was still in its infancy and details of the grant had not been finalised.”
Barmah locals have collected wood from the Barmah Forest for over 160 years but with the firewood collection season finishing on the 30 June, their closest collection for firewood is south of Rushworth which involves a three hour round trip. There is no mains gas supply to the town and many residents rely on wood as their primary source of power to their homes.
Ms Lovell said the Minister had removed the ability of many Barmah residents to gather their only source of affordable energy for their homes and needed to immediately deliver the help she promised to these same residents.
Comments attributable to Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell:
“Many Barmah residents were now doing it tough and I call on the Minister to deliver the up to $900 grants she promised to provide to help them through the winter months.
“With firewood collection finishing on 30 June, the Minister must make good on her promise and immediately provide these grants to the Barmah residents who need it.”
Media Contact: Jason Kelly 0413 103 240 firstname.lastname@example.org