Australian PM announces bushfire recovery funding for South Australia

Source: Xinhua| 2020-01-08 15:17:27|Editor: xuxin
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CANBERRA, Jan. 8 (Xinhua) -- Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday visited South Australian communities devastated by bushfires, vowing to help them "rebuild and recover."

Morrison toured Kangaroo Island, one third of which has been burnt by fires, off the coast of South Australia with state Premier Steven Marshall.

The pair announced an 11 million Australian dollar (7.5 million U.S. dollar) funding package for small businesses and farmers who have been affected by fires on Kangaroo Island and in the Adelaide Hills.

"South Australia, particularly the Kangaroo Island and Adelaide Hills communities, have faced devastating losses and the bushfire threat is not over yet," Morrison said.

"But we will be there, backing the communities every step of the way as they rebuild and recover."

Under the scheme, farmers and primary producers affected by the fires can apply for grants of up to 15,000 AUD (10,315 U.S. dollars) while small businesses will receive up to 10,000 AUD (6,876 U.S. dollars).

During his tour of the island, Morrison met with locals who called for him to deploy financial advisers to help affected communities.

Tourism operators, who largely rely on Kangaroo Island's diverse wildlife as a drawcard for visitors, asked the PM to send a message to international tourists urging them to visit the region.

"The eastern half of the island is still open for business and we need the visitors to keep coming," Chris Schumann, the owner of the Kangaroo Island Seaside Inn, told The Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"There's a lot to see on Kangaroo Island still. There are beautiful areas like Seal Bay, swim with the dolphins."

The government has deployed 121 Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel to Kangaroo Island to help with immediate relief and clean-up.

Marshall told reporters that the ADF presence and the funding would help affected communities get "back on their feet and flourishing as soon as possible."

"Despite the tragic circumstances, the people I meet on the ground are determined to recover and rebuild, and we are working with the federal and local governments to provide the support needed," he said.