Disaster assistance for Carnarvon

Disaster assistance for Carnarvon

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Mining and Pastoral Region MLC Mark Lewis (left), Federal Durack MP Melissa Price, Sweeter Banana Co-operatives' Doriana Mangili and North West Central MLA Vince Catania survey the damage to Carnarvon plantations from Cyclone Olwyn.

Mining and Pastoral Region MLC Mark Lewis (left), Federal Durack MP Melissa Price, Sweeter Banana Co-operatives' Doriana Mangili and North West Central MLA Vince Catania survey the damage to Carnarvon plantations from Cyclone Olwyn.

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CYCLONE Olwyn has been declared a natural disaster, triggering government assistance for affected Carnarvon growers and communities.

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CYCLONE Olwyn has been declared a natural disaster, triggering government assistance for affected Carnarvon growers and communities.

This assistance will come in addition to compensation from the Agricultural Produce Commission (APC), which was also announced this week.

APC chairman Bill Ryan said 48 growers who contribute to a scheme under the APC would receive the compensation.

"There has been media reports that the industry has been decimated, but the industry has a pretty robust insurance scheme in place and the funds will be able to flow quite quickly to them," Mr Ryan said.

He said the compensation amount paid will depend on how much it will cost the growers to re-establish their plantations.

"Within two to three weeks growers will get the funds," he said.

"Until the calculations are done we don't know how much they will receive, but it is likely to be about $2-3 million.

"This has happened before, with floods and heat damage.

"It's still tough for them, but they aren't destitute."

On Tuesday, Federal Attorney-General George Brandis and WA Premier Colin Barnett declared the situation a natural disaster requiring government assistance.

Mr Barnett said the assistance would help families and communities in the north west region get back on their feet and ensure that vital local industries are able to recover as soon as possible.

"While impact assessments are on-going and further areas may be affected, it is clear that there has been a significant impact on local economies, with some fruit plantations in the region being completely destroyed," Mr Barnett said.

"I would like to thank the many volunteers, including those of the State Emergency Service, who have been out and about helping their local communities with clean-up operations."

Mr Brandis said the assistance was being provided to the local government areas of Ashburton, Carnarvon, Exmouth and Shark Bay through the jointly-funded Commonwealth-State Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA).

Assistance available under the NDRRA may include personal hardship and distress assistance for families and individuals to help with emergency needs such as food, clothing and accommodation; essential repairs to damaged homes and the replacement of essential household contents; financial assistance for local and State government authorities to undertake counter-disaster operations and to restore damaged public infrastructure; interest rate subsidies for small businesses and primary producers who have been directly affected by flooding; and freight subsidies for primary producers to assist with the costs of transporting livestock, fodder or water for livestock and machinery and equipment.

The Farm Household Allowance (FHA) will also be made available for eligible farmers and their families.

Eligible people can claim the disaster relief allowance for income lost due to the severe weather, rainfall and associated flooding that occurred as a result of the cyclone.

Durack MP Melissa Price, who visited Carnarvon on Sunday, said it was a difficult time for the region, on top of drought and floods, and government support is vital to community recovery.

"We know there have been significant impacts to the agricultural sector, particularly the banana plantations and tomato, vegetable and fruit growers and we welcome the assistance," Ms Price said.

"It will provide a helping hand in the recovery for people who have lost income as a result of this cyclone."

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