Legislative Council

QUESTION: Supporting families affected by bushfire to rebuild

June 20th, 2017

On the 20th of June 2017, Mark asked the Minister for Emergency Services a question about bushfire recovery.

The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: I will note that the minister may wish to refer the question to the Minister for Planning, but if he has anything to say I am happy to hear that as well. The Pinery bushfire, as members would know, destroyed a large number of homes, and many of those homeowners are now seeking to rebuild their properties.

I have been in touch with one of the architects who is helping the affected community with their development applications, and have discovered that there are a number of difficulties that people seeking to rebuild are facing, not least of which is having to comply with very different standards of building approval to those that may have existed when they first built their properties.

I think most people would accept that an old property that has been destroyed, when it is rebuilt, will be rebuilt to modern standards - I don't think that is really in doubt. One thing that has bothered a number of homeowners are the fees and charges that may not, and in some cases are not, covered by any insurance they may have.

According to the government's website, councils in fire-affected areas are offering assistance, including fast tracking and fee reduction for development approvals, yet I understand that people are still being charged demolition fees to complete the work that the fire did not quite finish, knocking down the skeleton remains of their buildings. Many are being charged application fees for rebuilding, and there are a number of services, for example, that might be under the ground that have not been affected by the fire but nevertheless need to be replaced because they do not meet modern standards, and definitely are not covered by insurance.

So, all this adds up to an emotional and financial cost to these people trying to rebuild their lives. My question of the minister is: is the government giving consideration to the waiver of Development Act fees for people who are rebuilding their homes after bushfire or, if those fees have been already partially waived by councils, will government consider picking up the difference and in fact reimbursing councils for the development application fees that are lost in the case of people rebuilding after bushfire?
The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS  (Minister for Police, Minister for Correctional Services, Minister for Emergency Services, Minister for Road Safety): I thank the honourable member for his question. I am happy to take that question on notice and pass it on to the minister responsible in the other place. I think it will be the Minister for Communities and Social Inclusion, who is the minister responsible for recovery. They sound like good questions to be answered, and I am more than happy to seek a response from the responsible minister.

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