Farmer's challenge to deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack over government's fire and drought assistance

David Duff from "Toorooka" west of Kempsey with Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack. Photo: Samantha Townsend

David Duff from "Toorooka" west of Kempsey with Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack. Photo: Samantha Townsend

A challenge has been laid down to the Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack - log on and apply for your government's assistance that is available to drought and fire affected farmers.

"Do me a favour, you be the farmer and you ring up try and get it (the assistance) and fill out the 50 pages," Toorooka beef farmer Carolyn Duff said.

Mrs Duff put the proposition to Mr McCormack when he visited her fire ravaged property west of Kempsey as part of a tour of the region with Cowper MP Pat Conaghan to share the news about the Federal and State Government's $48.25 million community recovery package.

The package also includes $18.25 million for Community Recovery Fund for community projects and mental health.

Mr McCormack informed Mrs Duff about the package, which will see recovery grants of up to $15,000 for farmers and small businesses that were hit by recent bushfires on the North Coast, Mid North Coast and Northern Tablelands.

Mrs Duff asked "can I get it tomorrow?" in which Mr McCormack replied "you will have to go online and have a look".

Mrs Duff said this kind of assistance was the last resort for many people.

"If you announce it, then the next day you should be able to access it," Mrs Duff said.

But she said the process of applying for any government grant/assistance (state and federal) whether it was for bushfire or drought was too hard.

"You need to cut the red tape," she said.

"We need to tell someone about this."

Deputy Prime Minsiter Michael McCormack, Kempsey Mayor Liz Campbell and Cowper MP Pat Conaghan with Carolyn and David Duff.

Deputy Prime Minsiter Michael McCormack, Kempsey Mayor Liz Campbell and Cowper MP Pat Conaghan with Carolyn and David Duff.

During the visit, the Duffs showed the politicians the devastation caused by the bushfire on November 8 including images of that fateful day.

Mr McCormack asked many questions about the fire and its impacts including when it happened.

"We are pretty strong people, but we were on our knees because of drought," Mrs Duff said.

'We are in survival mode."

Willawarrin local Ian Sheridan with Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and Cowper MP Pat Conaghan.

Willawarrin local Ian Sheridan with Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and Cowper MP Pat Conaghan.

Earlier Ian Sheridan at Willawarrin showed the Deputy Prime Minister and Mr Conaghan as well as Kempsey Shire Mayor Liz Campbell what was left of his home.

Mr Sheridan, 74, who is the deputy captain of Willawarrin fire brigade had been helping save other people's homes when his burned to the ground.

"Helping people is what you do, there are a lot of people worse off that me," Mr Sheridan said.

Mr McCormack said people like Mr Sheridan showed the real Australian spirit.

"Despite losing everything, he is chipper, he's upbeat and is looking forward to the future...it's the spirit of this person, it's the spirit of this community that really shines through in these devastating times," Mr McCormack said.

Mr Conaghan thanked he community for what they had done in the three weeks to help those affected by the fires including volunteers and Kempsey Shire Council, mayor Liz Campbell and general manager Craig Milburn.

He added the community recovery package was a good step to help farmers and small businesses start the road to recovery.

"I advocated strongly for further assistance for my electorate of Cowper as I kept hearing while visiting evacuations centres and rural fires services meetings that people needed more help," Mr Conaghan said.

Community recovery package

Natural Disaster and Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud said the $15,000 grants would help bushfire affected communities get back to doing what they do best.

"Getting back to business is one of the best ways to bounce back," Mr Littleproud said.

"This will make sure businesses can open and people are back to work sooner. When money flows around a community it can help to speed up the whole recovery."

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said that the assistance package was a commitment from both governments to not only assist the long term recovery effort of bushfire affected communities, but also the farming and business sectors by making available recovery grants of up to $15,000 to eligible primary producers and small businesses.

NSW Deputy Premier, John Barilaro said regional NSW was going through a difficult time with the drought biting hard and ferocious bushfires across the state.

"This funding is an important step towards helping communities recover and we will do everything we can to help regional families rebuild for the long run," Mr Barilaro said.

When asked by The Land how soon people could access the funding, Mr McCormack said Prime Minister Scott Morrison would have it "out the door as soon as possible".

Mr McCormack said during the Queensland floods when people's livelihoods were washed away they had assistance within that week.

"He (Prime Minister) has made a commitment here and he is a man of his word, and we will get that out the door as quick as possible," Mr McCormack said in Willawarrin.

  • Assistance is being provided through the joint Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements. To apply for a recovery grant, primary producers and small businesses should contact the NSW Rural Assistance Authority on 1800 678 593 or visit raa.nsw.gov.au.