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In Cobargo people are still homeless after the fires, so where is the $2 billion going?

This morning I received the following email from my sister, Sarah, who lost her home in the Cobargo fires.

I’m speaking to ABC radio tomorrow about how bad the situation is down here.

I haven’t looked but have you written anything about it on your blog?

PLEASE will you write about how people are still living in tents? I heard a story about people with a disabled son, his wheelchair burnt and they are now paying to hire one. I hear of people who are still without power and water. I found another person who was renting and had been evicted because the landlord now needs to live in the house, she has 3 children and is caring for a disabled sister, they have nowhere to go. People who want to go home to their places in the bush can’t go there because the roads aren’t cleared. The organisations down here are giving priority to farmers and their fences and to businesses NOT the homeless.

This area is a place where Coronavirus would take off. We have no running water, no power, no toilets.

I saw on the tele tonight that the government has earmarked $2.4 billion to combat Coronavirus. Surely the best thing to combat disease is to house people?

Please tell everyone,

from Sarah

PS I’m so pissed off!

At the height of the fires, after Prime Minister Scott Morrison was shamed into returning to Australia one day early from his Hawaiian holiday, the PM announced a $2 billion bushfire recovery fund, presumably to assist people like my sister and the people she speaks of in her email. So far, several months after the catastrophe, only 10 per cent of that money has been allocated.

According to this ABC report, from March 2, the very existence of the recovery fund is questionable:

Labor Senator Murray Watt questioned whether the $2 billion fund actually existed, after National Bushfire Recovery Agency deputy coordinator Abigail Bradshaw told the hearing the fund was “notional”.

“So, the Prime Minister’s announcement on the 6th of January, when he was under a lot of pressure, was that he had established a national bushfire recovery fund. But there is no fund, is there, it’s not anywhere within the budget statements?” Senator Watt asked.

So, is there or isn’t there a $2 billion bushfire relief fund? And if there is, why is it taking so long to distribute the funds to people in desperate situations? And if there isn’t, what the hell is the Coalition government playing at?

Winter in the Cobargo area is cold. Nobody wants to be living in a tent. Nobody wants to be without power, heating, and water. What do people struggling to survive the loss of everything actually have to do to see some of this $2 billion, to which they are absolutely entitled?

Morrison and his government have moved on to the COVID-19 crisis, which they no doubt see as an opportunity for them to repair the massive loss of confidence, and the credibility they so thoroughly trashed during the bushfire disaster. We can only hope that monies promised to deal with the pandemic actually exist and, unlike the bushfire fund, are appropriately dispersed in time to have some effect.

In the meantime, the Coalition must answer all the questions surrounding the national bushfire recovery fund, the most urgent being, does it even exist? Because there are people in Cobargo, and I suspect many other fire-affected towns and villages across the country, who are living in tents and see no immediate relief from hardship, despite Morrison’s promises.

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.

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  1. Pingback: In Cobargo people are still homeless after the fires, so where is the $2 billion going? #auspol - News Oz

  2. paul walter

    The Cobargo Embargo must stop.

    If the government must do fiscal stimulus, the first thing they can drop is their austerity mode.

    Fiscal stimulus is about getting money moving in the economy so that there is not a reverse multiplier effect that induces recession…the bullying has to get put on hold for a while for a later more appropriate time.

    You know, they might even find it enjoyable to help people instead, like Ebenezer Scrooge did at the end of “A Christmas Carol”.

    Hope the Dr Wilson is well after her adventures of three months ago. Won’t be forgotten in a hurry for any of the affected you’d think.

    The government and public need to finally show compassion as they also need to do with the unemployed, because grief, stress and PTSD are not nice or healthy for the sufferer in the long run.

    Maybe they could even consider easing up a bit on asylum seekers.

    What we used to call the fair go,

  3. Josephine Mills

    Also where is all the $$$$$ raised through charities, personal donations, etc., these people need help/ financial assistance immediately?

  4. Jack Cade

    Most of the money made will almost certainly go to businesses, or intermediaries charged with the distribution of the funds.

  5. ChristopherJ

    Only business owners seem to be entitled to gifts from this government. Homeless? You won’t find any pity from this government, just a cashless welfare card if you’re lucky. Lost your home? Should’ve had insurance.

    This country’s in for a massive shock – a depression which will last a long time

  6. Keitha Granville

    Disgraceful. Shameless.

    What about all the money people donated?? Surely that can be handed out??

  7. Ross

    The people of Cobargo are being made to pay for the local and international bad press that followed when Scotty from marketing dropped in on a spin visit.
    The 2 billion bush fire find turns out be another piece of spin. A notional fund that does not exist.
    Anybody know how the people of Nelligan are getting on?

  8. Terence Mills

    Just an observation. If your home was destroyed or damaged to the extent that it is not fit for occupation and you were insured most Home Owners policies will cover the costs of renting alternative accommodation (this could include an onsite full amenities demountable/transportable building etc) for periods up to twelve months or until repairs or rebuilding have been carried out.
    This is frequently an Additional Benefit under the policy so, depending how your policy is worded, would be additional to you nominated sum insured.

    I realize this does not overcome the availability of alternative accommodation but it may assist some in getting the maximum benefit from their insurance policy.

  9. New Englnd Cocky

    The misdirection of about $51 MILLION funds to the RFS Trust Fund is a constructed hullaballoo by supporters of the emergency services, like ANU Law A/Prof Michael Eburn, when there is a legal remedy available.

    Could we get competent lawyer reader/subscriber to explain for AIMN readers the Cy-Pres Doctrine that covers such circumstances where the donors have gifted monies to an entity that wants to spend those moneys on something that was NOT the intention of the donors?

  10. Jack Cade

    And the double tragedy for the people in rural towns, who lost everything in the fires, is that they will still vote for the Coalition when it’s all over.

  11. Judithw

    The $2B fund was a “notional” fund …

  12. Robin Alexander

    Watching all time position of these unfortunate people! Can understand if not insured Myself as pensioner solely cost is over thousand dollars? With 3 children disabled sister if has husband understand all employment down there destroyed as all businesses were burnt?? This is our PM like spiteful child? Like little known fact of his surprise visit to quiet Hamlet of Carbargo obviously for publicity stunt sure up his image on his just return from Hawaii leaving place after Hostile reception from residents who had lost everything plus workplaces he had riot squad awaiting outside town(expecting trouble?) Soon as he left abruptly they descended on town & revisited next day! Residents reported this on Twitter! Not one newspaper reported PM’s really over top reaction to anything not suiting him?same when journalist ask him direct question he doesn’t like?turns his back walks away?men call this Gutless don’t they?

  13. Harry Lime

    In case no one had noticed,Scottyfrommarketing is full of shit,always was, always will be.Anyway ,he’s far too busy trying to make himself look like he’s doing something.Don’t expect anything of substance from this serial liar.This woefully inadequate pack of numbnuts could not be trusted at a football club pie night.

  14. henj

    he didnt say National disaster fund he said notional…one letter makes so much difference!

  15. Michael Taylor

    This is heartbreaking, Jen. If it wasn’t bad enough for your sister in January then this caps off the misery. 😢

  16. 3poodles

    Millions donated, a pittance passed on, and comes to light that many “charities” were reaping huge interest $$ ,whilst they left the money untouched. Then it comes to light that those same charities were charging high fees to administer the funds they kept. Meanwhile mths down the track, still funds are just dripping out. Claiming as some do, ” the law has hamstrung them” hence no aid to folks is a cop out, if there was a will, the laws could get changed overnight, but hey, morriscum and his band of sewer rats, are too busy trying to make ammends via corona virus, as the fire disaster was another stuffup by morriscum etc, that they want to fade away. This corona virus is a godsend to morriscum, he will flood it with funds in his bid to regain some respect, and idiot voters will buy it, thats how brain dead voters are. He who believes in “miracles” will be fortified by coronavirus, he and his co horts will shortly be back on track, lies/rorts/coverups, and most of all securing their return to govt, governing the country for the citizens is not their priority.

  17. totaram

    Who did the people of Cobargo vote for? This is a question they should be asking themselves. For all we know this is THEIR government. Tough shit, I say. Reap what you sow! Until these people actually understand what is going on, I have no sympathy for them. Sorry. This is what their government believes in. It is called “tough love”. So learn what it means and suck it up. Enjoy!

  18. Dr Jennifer Wilson

    Seriously, totaram, do you really believe everyone in Cobargo & surrounds votes the same way? This is a horrible comment, what is wrong with you?
    Jennifer Wilson

  19. Terence Mills


    The cy-près doctrine is a legal concept allowing a court of law to step-in, on application, where a charitable trust’s purposes are impossible or cannot be fulfilled for whatever reason. The court will then determine how the funds should be reapplied to purposes as close as possible to the trust’s original goals.

    All states have their own trusts legislation, in NSW it is THE CHARITABLE TRUSTS ACT 1993 (NSW)

  20. Carol Taylor

    So totaram, the disabled sister deserves what she gets (or rather doesn’t get because assistance hasn’t been provided as it should have been) because she may or may not have voted for your political party of choice. Would you not think that this is about fairness, about decency and caring for those who have lost so much, and who continue to suffer.

  21. Rossleigh

    Mm, I live in Josh Frydenberg’s electorate but I hope I’m never blamed for the fact that most people voted for him.
    I used to live in Chisholm but the borders changed. Life is strange if someone had told me that by the time I was my age, I’d live in the Kooyong electorate with a house worth over a million dollars, I would have expected to feel a lot richer than I actually am…
    But, I guess, compared to the people living in tents I am a lot richer than I feel.
    And I’m not just thinking of the ones in Cobargo!

  22. Kaye Lee

    I live in Robertson. Lucy Wicks sits in the Robertson seat in parliament. The idea that she represents me is offensive. She is a waste of space nodding head that I have typed my fingers to the bone trying to expose. She has blocked me from commenting on facebook and does not answer my emails. Yet she has walked into my business with cameras in tow wanting a photo op. When she asked my husband if there was anything he wanted to talk about, he said the NBN and she promptly left.

    I refuse to be collectively judged by the person that temporarily is overpaid to get her photo taken a lot and ask silly dorothy dixxers as the member for where I live..

  23. paul walter

    Really, all this fuss directed at Totaram, a commenter I find generally sound.

    His judgement is harsh, but there is more to it than meets the eye, more than some of you are realistic enough to admit.

    Would I be a”prick” if I said the government’s stimulus package was more about saving the hides of its own than the people at the bottom of the heap?

    Totaram, you have to accept that the people of places like Cobargo WILL get a lot of sympathy for what they have been through. The “disabled sister” metaphor is a good one as to political awareness, but there are reasons for it.

  24. Kaye Lee


    And hydrogen and carbon capture and storage are more about prolonging the fossil fuel industry.

    I also value totaram’s contributions. I disagree with their choice to blame this time.

  25. paul walter

    Sorry, Kaye Lee, I see you have a comment up, but it is not showing at the thread.

    Something about carbon capture and storage.

    Perhaps you are giving me an example that country folk are much, much less “slow” than city folk have been prepared to admit and as a regular Landline viewer, I would say country folk, or quite a lot of them, are sophisticated.

    But totaram’s comment was referring to political sophistication and I am still pissed off enough at last election result to have sympathy for his comments.

    Although, of course, the country folk did not start the bush fires.

    But they did vote for the idiots who exacerbated the disaster.

  26. paul walter

    Just got your comment and largely agree.

    Lucy Wicks?

    You poor woman.

    Perhaps it is in the political memes and myths which are a common trait in both city and country regions… different languages incomprehensible to outsiders?

  27. Michael Taylor

    I’ve always had a ‘policy’: defend the author.

    So imagine how Jennifer must feel after seeing that comment.

    My guess? Hurt and appalled.

  28. paul walter

    No. the comment must be taken in context. Simmer down, you all seem to reacting rather than thinking.

    I understand Jennifer’s point- I remember her appalling month including the damage done to members of her family, and her near escapes. I guess it was stuff she may still be having nightmares about and that is the aspect totaram must consider.

    But I also understand totaram’s point, even if it is a bit dark and bitter.

  29. paul walter

    Just tried to send off a comment, maybe it didn’t make it through, some tech prob.

    It was a plea for consideration and an attempt at mutual understanding.

  30. Lawrencesroberts

    Could it possibly getting siphoned though The Caymans?
    $17 Billion in the new package perhaps the opposition should keep an eye on it.
    If they are up to it, which I doubt.

  31. paul walter

    Let’s get back to what Jennifer Wilson is really saying, about the clumsy stupidity and sleazy indifference of government and bureaucracy when people are still living in tents as winter approaches.

    We remember it only took that woman whose name escapes me a couple of weeks to work up 60 million dollars in charitable aid for the smashed communities, but we can ask ourselves this question:

    Would the government have been as quick to act if the tragedy had been national rather than regional, as has occurred with a quick fiscal stimulus package to quench a vote losing recession?

  32. johno

    Would have thought many in Cobargo would vote labor and some green.

  33. Roswell

    Paul, you’re a wise and fair man.

  34. Roswell

    If I might add; I do remember how appalled the nation was last year when Barnaby Joyce mocked that some people who lost their homes to fires were probably Greens voters.

  35. paul walter

    No, Roswell.

    I just don’t like good people being of/in pain to/with their confrateres.

    I am exceptionally fond of the people here, just about all of them and something good won’t be damage by misunderstandings if I can help it.


    Now, back to the spy thingy on SBS.

  36. paul walter

    People need not be distracted/diverted from certain truths about the government and its chipper fiscal stimulus response either.

    JOHN MENADUE.- Economic and money mismanagement

    If there is a message in this thread it is that ordinary people can be hurt badly by governments with bad attitudes toward human beings.

  37. Michael Taylor

    We’ve all had a say, perhaps we can now move on.

  38. paul walter

    Sorry for getting too involved, for some reason I always finding myself responding in bursts to threads like this one.

  39. Sarah Gardiner

    totaram, Country folk? Do you mean toothless bumpkins? I thinks idiots are fairly well spread around the nation. Cobargo is in a bellwether seat, doesn’t this suggest some political thought? Especially when compared, for example, to blue ribbon seats in Vaucluse? Oh dear, how prejudiced of me, as if geography determines political awareness.

  40. Jdennifer Wilson

    Paul, when Morrison visited Cobargo & was roundly scorned, that did indicate to me that there is a sizeable section of the population there who are not in sympathy with him & his government. To turn on those people & hold them responsible for their misfortune because others in their community support the government is despicable. I live in a Nationals electorate. Do I deserve to have my house burn down because others voted for the local member even though I did not?
    This is a disgraceful argument and you should all be ashamed of making it. It’s the Barnaby Joyce argument, need I say more?

  41. Michael Taylor

    Nothing to forgive, Paul. 👍

  42. paul walter

    If I drank as heavily as I posted I would be unconscious drunk.

    Re the thing on Bridget McKenzie, Prof Twomey rightly criticises McKenzie on the assumption that she was negligent in gaining legal advice.

    But what if Mckenzie was assured she was doing right legally and even warned subtly not to argue the toss?

    Just a digression.

    Trust seems always a big issue with the government, both in Cobargo and Canberra.

  43. Keith


    Australians used to have a view that “everybody deserve a fair go”, such a notion has been changed to “people deserve a fair go, if they have a go”. It is a very unAustralian view that is now being put out by Morrison et al. All Australians impacted by the fires deserve to be given assistance no matter what their political allegiance. Only proper ( insert your own expletive) would think otherwise.

  44. BJ40

    Conservative Right-Wing Fascist governments around the world, will not end their extreme austerity cuts, to those
    in need, they only care about our money and their own political survival, at our expense

  45. wam

    The quote ‘ I heard….2.4 billions for …. corona virus…..
    Smirko and his predecessors are excellent at announcing, earmarking, appearing on tv looking concerned and blaming but not so good on doing anything, apart from finding excuses and moving on to the next avoidance crisis.
    I have had no answer as to how large the fee indue will charge for their welfare management of the gift. Sadly I will not receive a share but the franking credit boys will be in like Flynn and my multimillionaire national party school mate will get his whack as well.
    don’t pick on Wally he will be alright when the police find out how much Hannah contributed to the burning of her children or am I mixing him up with boy from the shed??

  46. New England Cocky

    @Terence Mills: Thank you for the legal update.

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