NSW and Victorian Governments announce bushfire clean-up

The NSW and Victorian Governments have announced that they will coordinate the clean-up of residential and commercial properties destroyed in this season’s bushfires, at no cost to residents, so communities can start rebuilding as soon as possible.

NSW Deputy Premier and Minister responsible for Disaster Recovery John Barilaro said work is already underway to clear insured and uninsured properties. “The NSW Government will shortly appoint major contractors to do the clean-up, who will be encouraged to engage local contractors wherever possible. Cleaning up eligible destroyed properties will ensure that these costs are not deducted from funds available under residents’ insurance policies for rebuilding. For the uninsured, it’s one less thing to worry about.”

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the NSW Government will work with insurance companies to ensure that any policy holders who have already had clean-up work completed will be at no disadvantage. “Impacted owners wanting their property cleared through this program need to call Service NSW on 13 77 88 to register their details and provide consent for access to their land,” he said.

The Victoria and Commonwealth Governments will jointly provide up to $75 million for a clean-up program to demolish, remove and safely dispose of all buildings destroyed or damaged beyond repair.

The Commonwealth Minister for Natural Disaster and Emergency Management David Littleproud said this is an important step on the path to recovery. “This is not just rebuilding homes and buildings, it’s rebuilding lives and communities,” he said.

The Victorian Minister for Police and Emergency Services Lisa Neville said the announcement means work can begin immediately. “This is about clearing the debris, cutting red tape and reducing costs for the community, so everyone can start the important work of rebuilding as soon as possible. We’re fully-funding this program and won’t be sending the clean-up bill to affected Victorians who have already been through so much.”

The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) has welcomed both the announcements with CEO Rob Whelan stating, “The ICA welcomes the Commonwealth’s financial involvement in this arrangement and encourages all state governments to adopt similar models to assist communities in their bushfire recoveries.

“This arrangement treats all affected property owners fairly and equally. It should result in faster and safer site clean-up for many, and help ensure greater community safety in the removal and transport of potentially hazardous materials.”

Government-funded cleanup was a notable component of recovery efforts following the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires and is widely regarded as best practice after a natural disaster.

Clean-up arrangements coordinated by the NSW Government will include:

  • The appointment of contractors in the South and the North to clean-up bush fire impacted properties.
  • Costs for clean-up will be covered by the NSW Government in partnership with the Federal Government.
  • Where insurance companies have commenced clean-up works for safety reasons these will continue.

Details regarding the appointed contractors and clearing of commercial properties in NSWwill be announced shortly. Further information is available at: www.service.nsw.gov.au

Grocon, which undertook the 2015 Wye River bushfire clean-up, has been selected to undertake the 2020 clean-up program in Victoria and will be available on the ground as soon as Victorians register. Grocon will prioritise local contractors to demolish, remove and dispose of all buildings destroyed or damaged beyond repair by bushfire, including residential, commercial and public buildings, and out-buildings such as sheds.

Property owners in Victoria are encouraged to register for the 2020 Clean-Up Program here or by phoning 1800 560 760.