News National NSW ministers slam charities for bushfire relief delays
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NSW ministers slam charities for bushfire relief delays

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Two more NSW ministers have expressed their frustration at the length of time major charities are taking to distribute millions of dollars in bushfire relief.

The Red Cross, St Vincent de Paul and the Salvation Army have been accused of drip-feeding donations to fire-affected communities, and stockpiling money for future emergencies.

On Wednesday, NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance fired a broadside at the charities, claiming money was “sitting in a Red Cross bank account earning interest”.

On Thursday, Emergency Services Minister David Elliott said he shared the frustration of fire-affected communities that were yet to receive significant amounts of aid.

“My message to the charities is ‘pull your finger out’,” he said.

“This is not a time for us to delay, particularly while people are hurting so much.”

The minister in charge of the state’s bushfire disaster recovery, Deputy Premier John Barilaro, also piled on, saying the charities must pass on every single dollar that has been donated.

“To read that organisations like Red Cross are putting some of that money aside for a future crisis or emergency is not in the spirit of what I believe Australians gave that money,” he said.

“I believe that there has got to be a clear message to those organisations that that money must flow today.”

Mr Elliott encouraged people to keep donating but said they should do their due diligence.

“Our established charitable institutions have a good reputation so I would caution everybody not to change their behaviour,” he said.

“But I would also say to those charities, please don’t damage your own brand, make sure that the money that is being given in good faith is distributed in the spirit it is given.”

Mr Constance, the member for Bega, came out swinging against the three major charities for taking too long to distribute money.

“The money is needed now,” he said.

“Not sitting in a Red Cross bank account earning interest so they can map out their next three years and do their marketing.

“People are on their knees and we can’t have a drip feed.”

Mogo village, on the NSW south coast, was destroyed by fires during the New Year period.

Red Cross director of Australian Services, Noel Clement, said in a statement on Wednesday there was an absolute commitment to getting money into victims’ pockets.

“We are keen to get the money out but we also need to make sure it’s getting to where it’s needed,” he said.

The Red Cross said on social media it was getting more than $1 million in bushfire relief “out the door” each day and had already paid out $6.9 million in emergency grants to people who had lost their homes.

The organisation said it had delivered $5 million in initial disaster support, $1 million to families who had lost a relative, $18 million over three years to support community recovery and that $61 million had been allocated to “further immediate and long term support”.

The ABC has contacted St Vincent de Paul and the Salvation Army for comment.

-ABC

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