4 November 2015
Today’s announcement that Australian Government Assistance is available to eligible individuals and businesses experiencing financial hardship due to the closure of fishing in Fullerton Cove and Tilligerry Creek is an important first step in addressing the needs of our community.
Many local businesses and families have not had the capacity to earn an income for more than two months through no fault of their own, so the offer of financial assistance has been a long time coming.
I first raised the issue of financial assistance with the Minister for Defence in September when the news of the contamination broke and have raised specific cases of need with the Minister on a number of occasions since.
The assistance being offered will go some way to easing the immediate financial pressures of those affected, however, there is a long road ahead and many questions remain unanswered.
Commercial fishers are still faced with the prospect of their industry being unable to operate for at least another eight months and even then there are long-term reputational issues that will have to be overcome.
There are also the obvious health concerns of residents and workers, property valuation issues and the environmental impacts of the contamination to be considered.
Again, while the financial assistance announced today is a welcome a first step to redress for some, this is a very complex financial, health and environmental issue that will be ongoing for some time.
I will continue to advocate for the Williamtown and surrounds community and invite any affected residents or businesses to raise their concerns directly with me so I can raise their case with the Minister.