The business organisation has urged the government to do more to expedite recovery efforts from the bushfire crisis that hit the state over the New Year period.
Expressing his frustration with both the state and federal government, Business NSW chief executive Stephen Cartwright said that these communities are still in a dire situation.
“It’s both disappointing and frustrating that there’s a slanging match between the federal and state governments over how best to get these communities back on their feet,” Mr Cartwright said.
“Being based in Batemans Bay this week (as part of the Australian Chamber’s Executive Board and Council meetings supporting the Backing the Bush initiative) has highlighted how much these communities still need our help.”
He opined that the criteria used to assess those eligible for direct assistance was either too tight or onerous, with many businesses ineligible or unable to ask for help despite the fact they were unable to trade for weeks on end.
The other clear problem, Mr Cartwright explained, has been the “mammoth effort” required to date, and still to come, in removing burnt-out debris from homes and business premises.
He said: “Until I travelled up and down the Coast the last couple of days and spoke with small-business owners, I couldn’t comprehend the scale of the recovery effort still required.
“These business owners want to re-open their doors and provide a wage for their employees, but the debris removal process is taking far too long.
“Of course, everything has to be done in an organised and safe manner, but at the same time if more hands are needed, then call them in.”
While much of the focus has moved away from the bushfire crisis, Mr Cartwright urged the state and federal government to shift their focus back to these communities.
“Communities can’t hope to recover unless there is constant awareness of the changing nature of the obstacles they are facing,” he said.