Fire and drought recovery talks in Canberra

WELLINGTON Shire mayor Alan Hall met with former Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove last week in Canberra at a roundtable for bushfire-devastated communities.

Sir Peter is the chairman of the Business Council’s Community Rebuilding Initiative, which aims to work with business and community leaders and government to rebuild communities following the bushfires.

More than 80 mayors and other representatives from fire-affected communities across the country attended.

Cr Hall attended the roundtable with the aim of highlighting the plight of regional businesses, especially seasonal businesses which have missed out on their most lucrative time of the year.

“Apart from the obvious loss of private property, small businesses in Wellington, East Gippsland and all along the east coast have also suffered terribly from these fires,” Cr Hall said.

“During what would be the busiest time of year, tourists were actively discouraged from visiting these areas due to the fire threat.

“While fires are still burning in far east Gippsland, the rest of Gippsland has suffered and continues to suffer as the tourists stay away.”

Cr Hall said council was committed to helping the local economy recover from not only the unrelenting drought, but also the recent fires.

He said council continued to provide direct support to the east Gippsland community during this time of recovery.

“At the roundtable I had discussions with mayors from other areas of the country that were not directly affected, but the economic impacts have been profound,” he said.

“It was a great opportunity to hear from those right in the line of fire about what they are needing to recover and also have the opportunity to push the agenda and needs of Wellington as we recover from this dreadful summer holiday season.”