MEMBER for Calare Andrew Gee has called on the state and federal governments to work together to make financial assistance available for the communities affected by the gas outage.
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A gas leak was detected in the Young Lithgow pipeline on Wednesday, November 2, affecting 20,000 connections across Bathurst, Lithgow, Oberon and Wallerawang.
The damage to the pipeline is believed to have been caused by flooding in the region.
Since the leak, there have been calls for a natural disaster declaration to be made for the area, which would enable financial assistance to be made available for residents and businesses affected by the outage.
But, more than five days later, as people continue to wait to be reconnected, there is still no financial assistance on offer.
Mr Gee thought it would be available already.
He has spoken to the federal Labor duty senator for Calare, Deborah O'Neill, and made a formal request to the federal Minister for Emergency Management, Murray Watt.
He is now urging the two levels of government to work together to provide this vital support as soon as possible.
"The reality of the way the emergency protocols work is that the request has to come from the NSW Government and then the Federal Government also needs to come to the party," Mr Gee said.
"So it is a joint state and federal responsibility and this assistance is needed absolutely urgently, because even as we speak ... we've still got businesses who are not connected to gas and can't open."
Business owners have contacted Mr Gee appealing for help, warning of serious consequences if it is not forthcoming.
"Our local businesses have said to me that you'll see increasing lines at Centrelink if you don't get help to them," he said.
Mr Gee said "a very clear statement" needs to be made to give people the reassurance that assistance is coming.
"We need to make front and centre the fact that there are people and households and residents and businesses who are really hurting out there because of this emergency, and we need to get the help out the door on the double and I'm asking both the state and federal government to put money on the table and make a very clear statement that disaster assistance will be made available from this emergency," he said.
NSW Deputy Premier and Member for Bathurst Paul Toole advised on November 4 that there would be conversations with the federal government about a disaster declaration and financial assistance.
At another press conference on Monday, November 7, he said there were discussions about support happening at a state level and further conversations would occur with the federal government.
"This is important about ensuring that we look at what support is to be made to individuals, to households and even to businesses, and obviously we will be speaking with the federal government, but also we will be speaking with companies here as well," Mr Toole said.
Speaking to the Western Advocate, he said the process was under way and "there are a number of steps that are involved" to see what level of support can be provided.
At this stage, there is no timeline available for when any financial assistance programs will open.
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