Cost of Australian bushfire crisis "unprecedented": recovery boss

Xinhua News,CANBERRA
2020-01-08 14:16

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CANBERRA, Jan. 8 (Xinhua) -- Australia's bushfire recovery boss said that he was "under no illusions" about the magnitude of the recovery task, and has reassured bushfire victims that rebuilding efforts would not be hindered by bureaucracy.

Andrew Colvin, who was on Monday announced as the inaugural leader of the National Bushfire Recovery Agency for two years, told Nine Entertainment newspapers on Tuesday night that the agency can only succeed if it works with affected communities.

At least 25 people including three volunteer firefighters have been killed and more than six million hectares of land burnt by bushfires across Australia since September.

"We have over 1,800 homes destroyed and that's before we even begin to count the cost of outhouses, of sheds, of public places, of schools ... the heartbeat of some of these communities," said Colvin who previously served as commissioner of the Australian Federal Police.

"It's before we even begin to count the cost to business, to those people who may not have lost their homes but they don't have a place to turn up for work today. They're not sure how the next pay cheque is going to arrive. The cost of this is unprecedented."

He said that the agency would not succeed if it pursued a "one size fits all" approach, instead promising that its response would be "nationally generated" but "locally delivered."

"A tourist town in East Gippsland is very different from a dairy farm on the South Coast of New South Wales. Our approach is going to have to be something which is tailored and nuanced. That is the message I will be sending to everyone involved," Colvin said.

"We'll be listening and we'll be learning. That's the key message here I need to get out."
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