Fire-affected residents in the Blue Mountains have criticised the Federal Government for tightening the eligibility rules for disaster relief payments, as fires continue to burn uncontrolled.
The largest blaze in New South Wales today, the State Mine Fire, is still burning around the Bells Line of Road.
The Rural Fire Service says the fire is not threatening properties, but a “watch and act” alert is in place.
Two other fires are burning at Mount Victoria and Springwood in the Blue Mountains, but both have been downgraded to the “advice” alert level.
Emergency services and Government officials briefed hundreds of fire-affected residents about the recovery effort at a community meeting in Winmalee last night.
Upset locals used the meeting to vent their frustration at the Federal Government for tightening eligibility rules for disaster assistance.
They also questioned why they are getting less than victims of previous disasters.
“We just can’t understand why it would be cut other than a stupid cost-cutting exercise,” said Labor Senator Doug Cameron.
One resident, Leigh, said his mother lost her home in the fire and is eligible for the assistance.
But he is angry that funding will not be available for his sister, whose home was damaged, when she would have been eligible in the past.
“Initially it didn’t concern me. I thought, fair enough Mum deserves her thousand dollars but my sister doesn’t,” he said.
“But when I found out people were having entitlements stripped from them that they would have had previously I was livid.”
“It’s something I’ll keep on until I get an answer from our local member Louise Markus who is supposed to be representing us.”
Local Liberal MP Louise Markus did her best to defend the level of assistance on offer.
“What I’m assured of is… there’s much assistance already available and many people are accessing and having their needs met,” she said.
“I’ll be fighting to make sure that if they’re needs are not met, that those needs are met.”