20 January 2021

Joint Statement with Senator Murray Watt, Shadow Minister for Disaster and Emergency Management

Gippsland bushfire victims should be outraged by a dodgy public relations contract awarded by the Federal Coalition Government to a former Coalition staffer to spruik delayed recovery efforts.

“It has been 12 months since devastating bushfires ripped through communities in the Gippsland region, but victims are still living in sheds and caravans on their fire-ravaged properties while waiting for recovery assistance,” Federal Labor Senator for Victoria, Senator Raff Ciccone said.

“At the same time, documents listed on the Australian Government’s tenders website show that the Liberal National Government awarded a $190,000 limited tender to a former Coalition adviser to produce videos promoting recovery efforts.

“Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Coalition have one focus and one focus only, and that’s making slick advertisements. Bushfire survivors need homes, not photo opportunities,” Senator Ciccone said.

It is not the first time the Morrison Government has served up high-paid jobs for former Coalition staff, having also found $136,000 for a few months of bushfire consultation work for former adviser Peter Crone last year.

The Morrison Government also splashed nearly $300,000 on tracking the world’s perception of Australia after the bushfires through Global Sentiment Monitoring.

“The fact that the Morrison Government has delivered less than half of the funding it promised from its $2 billion Bushfire Recovery Fund, but still has plenty of cash to splash on PR is indulgent and speaks volumes about the Government’s priorities,” Shadow Minister for Disaster and Emergency Management Senator Murray Watt said.

“Meaningful support for bushfire-effected communities has been far too slow. We don’t need another photo op, we need real action from the Morrison Government.”

Bushfire victims deserve appropriate, timely and substantive recovery assistance. They don’t need slick videos for social media documenting recovery work that hasn’t delivered.