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Friday, May 14, 2021
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Calls continue to extend HomeBuilder for bushfire-affected residents

Labor MP Kristy McBain has continued to call on the Federal Government to extend the HomeBuilder scheme for residents affected by last summer’s horror bushfires.

The Federal Member for Eden-Monaro has previously raised concerns about builders unable to comply with the scheme’s timeframes and wants residents affected by the bushfires granted extended access to the full $25,000 grant amount.

Ms McBain urged the Morrison Government to give bushfire survivors the time they need to make the most of the HomeBuilder grants when rebuilding their homes.

“The rebuilding and recovery process is long, complex and emotional,” she said.  

“We need to ensure that HomeBuilder applications are being converted to approvals and people aren’t left short.”

In the worst-hit region of Eurobodalla on the NSW South Coast, 800 homes were destroyed or damaged beyond repair by the bushfires.

A spokesperson for Eurobodalla’s Bushfire Recovery Support Service said the Eurobodalla Council had received 241 applications for bushfire rebuilds as at the end of January 2021, with 198 approved. A specialist team was set up to give priority to bushfire-related development applications.

The spokesperson said of the clients using the service, the insurance experience is “across the range”.

“Some have had no problems at all, they’ve been paid out and they’re rebuilding or in a few cases have already moved into their rebuilt homes.

“We’re also aware of people who are disputing or still waiting on their insurance, however, we have no data at this stage.”

They said there were still many impacted residents who would benefit from any scheme that provides funding and time.

“Some people still aren’t in a frame of mind where they can make those big decisions about rebuilding.”

According to the Insurance Council of Australia, of the 38,677 bushfire-related claims across the country, 81% of those were from NSW.

Across the affected states nationally – NSW, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria – 88.67% of insurance claims for residential buildings had been closed as at 26 November last year, the most recent available data.

Eligible Australians can currently access a HomeBuilder grant of $15,000 for contracts signed before 31 March 2021, after the Federal Government extended the scheme by three months.

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