Bushfire aid decision delayed

Chloe FraserSound Telegraph
Picture of a fire in Baldivis, Perth.
Camera IconPicture of a fire in Baldivis, Perth. Credit: Ross Swanborough. 090120

The City of Rockingham council has delayed a vote to consider if it should help communities devastated by bushfires over east or if it should take a more local approach.

Last week council deferred a decision to donate $10,000 to bushfire relief and recovery efforts, which was recommended by City staff.

Cr Hayley Edwards moved an alternative motion to delay the vote and wait for further information to be gathered on options for a donation.

“I think it is a fantastic gesture for the City to want to donate to the Eastern States but I’d like to see the $10,000 used locally instead,” she said.

“Maybe to help those affected by the recent Baldivis bushfire.”

Cr Edwards’ alternative motion was carried unanimously. Meanwhile, a similar effort by a City of Kwinana councillor to consider a local charity was defeated.

The City voted, 5-3, to donate $3500 to the Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund.

The City has $7613 allocated for community donations in the 2019/2020 financial year, with $1275 already distributed. A City report said a donation of $3500 to bushfire relief would leave “sufficient capacity” for local needs to be met for the rest of the year.

But Cr Matthew Rowse urged his fellow councillors to support firefighting efforts locally.

Cr Rowse said he was concerned about whether the donation would be distributed correctly and instead foreshadowed a motion that council direct the chief executive to investigate other options that would benefit other programs and recruitment of fire fighters to local bushfire brigades.

Cr Dennis Wood spoke in support of the $3500 donation to the bushfire appeal, saying he hoped the significant amount would bring back some hope to the communities affected.

Also recommending the item for approval, Mayor Carol Adams said the City was “no stranger to bushfires”.

“We more than anyone know how fortunate we have been to date not to have sustained major property damage or loss of life from several significant bushfires in our City over the years,” she said.

“All the communities impacted by the devastating bush fires are members of a local government community.

“It is important that in difficult times such as this, we all band together a give those in need a hand up.

“I am confident that nearly every local government in Australia are providing donations or assistance of some kind and I hope this assistance will give a lot of hope for those who are most in need of assistance.”

The original officers’ recommendation to donate $3500 to the Red Cross appeal succeeded, with Cr Rowse, Merv Kearney and Peter Feasey voting against.

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