6 February 2023

Haines and McCurdy demand better support for Falls Creek businesses from Victorian Government

Independent Federal Member for Indi, Dr Helen Haines MP and Victorian Member for Ovens Valley Tim McCurdy have united in a call to the Victorian Government to boost support for businesses affected by the Bogong High Plains Road landslide.

Dr Haines and Mr McCurdy have written to Industry and Innovation Minister Ben Carroll, requesting additional targeted support for businesses who have suffered loss due to the landslide, both directly impacted businesses in the Falls Creek area and indirectly impacted businesses including hospitality, tourism, accommodation, and construction businesses in the Mount Beauty area which have suffered flow-on consequences.

“This landslide has compounded years of uneven cash flow for businesses and individuals. The Black Summer bushfires and coronavirus pandemic took a heavy toll on our businesses which have lost four seasons of trade in three years,” Dr Haines and Mr McCurdy wrote.

“Targeted financial support could keep important businesses afloat, prevent job losses, and help our region to continue its economic recovery.

“We believe the State Government must step up as the current funding package does not go far enough,” Dr Haines and Mr McCurdy said.

An economic impact assessment of the consequences of the landslide by Tourism North East estimates a loss of 90,700 visitors to Falls Creek and 129 temporary construction and contract workers. This is predicted to result in a loss of $36.4 million in direct expenditure within Falls Creek, with the total economic loss to the Hume Region being 360 jobs and $64.6 million in output.

The Victorian Government announced a $2.9 million support package last week, but there is little information on how the funds will be distributed and who would be eligible.

“Last week’s announcement is a drop in the ocean compared to how much has been lost at Falls Creek, Mount beauty and surrounding communities this Summer,” Dr Haines said.

“The announcement last week that the Peaks Challenge won’t go ahead in March was devastating to business owners who are in a dire position. The lack of certainty about when the road will re-open is adding to what is already an incredibly stressful situation.”

Authorities had previously said one lane of the road could re-open in March, but it is now unclear when it could re-open.

“I am assured the Victorian Government is taking appropriate measures to address the landslide itself in challenging conditions, but much more needs to be done to support businesses that continue to be affected by the closure of the road and are really struggling,” Dr Haines said.

Dr Haines has already lobbied the Federal Government to ensure people affected by the landslide are eligible for Federal payments such as the Disaster Recovery Allowance, and for further support. Emergency Management Minister Murray Watt responded to Dr Haines, saying under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements, the state had the primary responsibility for responding to disasters and providing immediate assistance.

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