Million dollar bushfire recovery works provide boost for rural ACT

Steve Evans, Canberra Times, 24 April 2020

The ACT Government has brought forward major works to try to boost the economy as it flounders under the virus crisis.

The aim is to spend to keep the economy up in the face of the plague but also to repair after the fire.

The government says the plan is to mend fences destroyed by fire in the Namadgi National Park and to plant native trees in the Lower Cotter water catchment area.

It estimates the cost of the work to be one million dollars, including the hiring of twenty-six temporary staff. The aim is also to hire local contractors.

Environment Minister Mick Gentleman said, "To support land restoration and improve water quality in our Lower Cotter Catchment, staff and contractors will plant native seedlings, remove invasive weed infestations, and control soil erosion in targeted areas.

"In addition, twenty-six temporary jobs are being created in the ACT Parks and Conservation Service as part of our Jobs for Canberrans initiative announced on Monday.

"These roles will help with bushfire recovery efforts to make our parks and reserves safe for visitors to return after social distancing measures are eased.

The ACT Government said the new jobs would be:

·        six Ngunnawal Ranger positions to care for Country as part of the bushfire recovery program.

·        ten Ranger positions to support bushfire recovery and catchment restoration and to upgrade damaged or degraded tracks and trails across the ACT.

·        ten Field Officer positions to support bushfire recovery and catchment restoration and to upgrade damaged or degraded tracks and trails across the ACT.

The new official buzzword is "screwdriver ready" for projects which can be started immediately ("shovel ready" was the old buzzword in government circles).

"The ACT Government is funding screwdriver-ready projects to repair and replace rural fences damaged by bushfire and undertake critical Lower Cotter Catchment restoration works," Mr Gentleman said.

"The ACT is still healing from the devastating Orroral Valley bushfire and this work will see boundary fences between Namadgi and rural properties rebuilt," Mr Gentleman said.

"Our stimulus has been designed with local contractors and suppliers in mind. The work will benefit small business owners that deliver agricultural services, along with local fencing businesses who will do the work and provide materials."