Dozens of local councils across four states are set to receive $1 million apiece in immediate bushfire relief from the federal government to help the recovery effort from the deadly Australian bushfires.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the assistance today as the first cash distribution from the government's newly established $2 billion bushfire recovery fund. "This is initial and this is urgent – there will be more," Scott Morrison told reporters at a press conference this afternoon.
"Those million-dollar payments will be sitting in the state governments' bank accounts tomorrow so they can immediately start distributing those out to those council areas."
The announcement comes as the national toll from this season's devastating fires rises to 27 dead and 2,131 homes lost.
"As further damage assessments are undertaken – particularly in Victoria – the numbers will continue to, sadly, change and they will continue to escalate," Mr Morrison said.
The initial $1 million base payments will go to the 42 Local Government Areas (LGAs) most severely affected by the bushfire disaster – 33 in NSW, two in Victoria, five in Queensland and two in South Australia.
This includes the LGAs of Kangaroo Island in South Australia – which has already lost a third of its landmass to fire – and East Gippsland in Victoria, where thousands in rural communities remain cut-off due to damaged and blocked roads.
A further $18 million has been set aside to offer extra money to larger local governments and the most severely affected communities.
Local councils are free to allocate the cash, which can be spent on everything from immediate maintenance and repairs through to new public activities and events to rally communities together and attract tourism back into the area.
"This is a ground-up response that we're supporting," Mr Morrison said.
"(The councils) are setting their priorities, they understand their needs. What they need from us is the financial backing to get on and meet those needs," Mr Morrison said.
The government has flagged further payments to councils in the coming days and weeks as damage assessments are complete.
"What those councils can understand today is the cheque is cut – it is ready to roll," Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud said.
"Get on with the job in the comfort of knowing that the Australian Government is standing shoulder to shoulder with you to make sure what you need is there."
The Prime Minister also has flagged further payments to boost tourism, help small businesses and for environmental rehabilitation and habitat restoration in the coming weeks and months.
The full list of Local Government Areas set to receive the payments are:
NSW – Armidale, Ballina, Bega Valley, Bellingen, Blue Mountains, Byron, Central Coast, Cessnock, Clarence Valley, Eurobodalla, Glenn Innes Severn, Hawkesbury, Inverell, Kempsey, Kyogle, Lismore, Lithgow, Mid-Coast, Mid-Western, Nambucca, Port Macquarie-Hastings, Queanbeyan-Palerang, Richmond Valley, Shoalhaven, Singleton, Snowy Monaro, Snowy Valleys, Tenterfield, Tweed, Walcha, Wingecarribee, Wollondilly
VICTORIA– East Gippsland, Towong
QUEENSLAND – Livingstone, Noosa, Scenic Rim, Southern Downs, Sunshine Coast
SA – Adelaide Hills, Kangaroo Island
Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/national/australian-fires-pm-scott-morrison-announces-60-million-funds-for-councils/e73b75e5-c264-48d5-aa7c-2726f38c341f