Less than half of the government's bushfire recovery funds have been allocated, new research shows

A new report into the black summer bushfires shows less than half the federal government's bushfire funds have been allocated.

NSW RFS crews extinguish a fire that crossed the Monaro Highway, four kilometres north of Bredbo, NSW, Sunday, 2 February, 2020.

NSW RFS crews extinguish a fire that crossed the Monaro Highway, four kilometres north of Bredbo, NSW, Sunday, 2 February, 2020. Source: AAP

Less than half of the federal government's $2.74 billion bushfire recovery funds have been allocated, research shows.

The report, three months in the making, titled 'Smokescreen' and funded by political activist group GetUp and produced by Per Capita, queries the allocation of bushfire recovery funds across Australia.

It showed that of the $2.74 billion funding announced, about 48 per cent had been delivered.

Considering the level of national importance these funds hold, GetUp believes government transparency is lacking.

It also alleges there are multiple accounts of federal government ministers misrepresenting the scale of the funding and the speed of delivery.

NSW received 77 per cent of one section of the funding, titled Local Economic Recovery. The report found 76 per cent of that has gone to coalition seats and one per cent to NSW Labor seats.

Some 86 per cent of funds went to the conservative government states of NSW and SA, with Labor states Queensland and Victoria receiving 14 per cent.

Per Capita report author Matt Lloyd-Cape said due diligence wasn't being adhered to by the Commonwealth.

"There seem to be very few checks and balances on how public money allocated by the federal government is being spent by state governments," he said.

"The public needs to know that the federal government is safeguarding the recovery funds and ensuring they are distributed according to need."

There was clear room for improvement on the current systems, he said.

On its website, the National Bushfire Recovery Agency said state governments "are running the process of identifying the right projects to meet community needs, in line with national criteria agreed among states and the (agency)".

"The process is a bit different in each state - some are doing an open call for project ideas, while others are working directly with local recovery committees and councils on local priorities."

Mr Lloyd-Cape said that as climate change increased the frequency and severity of extreme weather events, the transparency of funding allocation was vital.

"The government should be ensuring that the general public, and more importantly bushfire survivors, know exactly what is happening with the funds allocated to the recovery," he said.

2 min read
Published 23 February 2021 at 7:15am
Source: AAP, SBS