Ovens Property

MR McCURDY (Ovens Valley) — My adjournment matter is to the Minister for Energy,Environment and Climate Change, and the action that I seek is that she commit to a formal review of the decision by the government to not acquire land owned by Mrs Anne Briggs of Ovens or compensate her for an environmental disaster.

By way of context, in 2015 a landslide occurred in Ovens, a small community near Myrtleford. Mrs Briggs's home was destroyed by this landslide, and she is currently negotiating with her insurer, which will negotiate a settlement for the building but not the land. The land that Mrs Briggs owns is now useless in that it cannot be rebuilt on, due to the unstable nature of the land with an ongoing water course going down the valley in which she lives. Mrs Briggs has sought assistance from the government and the minister's office, which she has formally been denied. It is clear that the damage to her property is the direct result of fires that apparently got away during a planned burn which destabilised the land and which then allowed dead burnt trees to change the water course onto Mrs Briggs's property.

I wish to make it clear that the insurance policy covers the buildings and fencing on the land, not the land itself. The minister's letter states that the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning has been raising the issue with council and liaising with them; however, it is my understanding that this is to assist in recouping their costs rather than Mrs Briggs's costs. Initially the insurer spent a large amount of time and money clearing rubble, cleaning the house and stripping out plaster and woodwork. Since the landslide, considerable amounts of rubble and water have continued to come down to the back door and to the side and front of the building.

This land is now unsafe and continues to erode. It is absolutely useless for planting or for rebuilding. It is now 10 and a 1⁄2 months since the event. The insurance company is negotiating in good faith with regard to the replacement of the building and fences, but the government now refuses to assist Mrs Briggs, who has an environmental disaster on her hands and a block of land that cannot be rebuilt on. Again I seek a formal review of this decision, and I would be more than willing to meet on-site with any agency that is prepared to discuss this important issue for Mrs Briggs.

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