Labor leader Anthony Albanese has lashed the Morrison government's $2 billion bushfire recovery fund as overly bureaucratic and poorly targeted.
Just 291,000 of the 7.1 million people who live in local government areas impacted directly or indirectly by the 2019-20 bushfires have received disaster recovery payments, National Bushfire Recovery Agency deputy coordinator Major General Andrew Hocking told a Senate inquiry on Tuesday.
A separate Senate inquiry earlier heard just 21,405 of the 640,000 businesses in bushfire-affected areas have received a grant or concessional loan from the Commonwealth.
The state and Commonwealth disaster recovery payments will be reviewed, amid concerns some areas have unfairly missed out.
While Mr Albanese welcomed the multi-billion dollar bushfire recovery fund when it was announced in January, six months on the support program increasingly appeared "poorly targeted", with survivors struggling to access funds.
"The rhetoric hasn't matched up with the reality on the ground," Mr Albanese said.
"Scott Morrison said when he made announcements of funding way back in January, that the funding would flow immediately and we know that isn't the case. It's now June and only 4 per cent of residents in the bushfire affected areas have received any support at all.
"When I've been on the ground, individuals will tell you and businesses will tell you they simply haven't been able to navigate the bureaucracy and the government has failed to have people there directly coordinating the process."
Mr Albanese spoke to one Batemans Bay restaurant owner who was a former chartered accountant but was still struggling with the paperwork.
"He was told after he'd spent all this time filling in a 17-page form that it was the wrong application process," Mr Albanese said.
"The chicken farm we went to last week in Quaama told us that they had engaged someone outside to try to get their support and that shouldn't be necessarily, there should be a government contact who is able to coordinate all of that activity for individuals and for businesses."
Orchardists in Batlow who'd lost hundreds of trees to the fires were also unable to get government support, as were winemakers who'd lost vineyards.
"When you lose a grapevine it can take many years, four or five years before it's producing again, the quality that that people want," Mr Albanese said.
The mill at Tumbarumba was also both directly and indirectly affected by the fires, but unable to get support.
"The logs that they rely upon have all been burnt, and they're trying to utilise those logs but they are going to have to in order to keep up their production, go further and further out for the raw materials and that requires an additional costs in terms of freight. And they're the major employer around Tumbarumba both directly and indirectly. So there's a range of businesses really struggling from the bushfires," Mr Albanese said.
Councils were also struggling with the cost of the clean-up, Mr Albanese said.
"Local governments received very little support, just the initial million dollar grant for local government areas that were affected by bushfires.
"It goes nowhere near the costs of cleaning up and the costs associated with the bushfires. And so local government have been under real pressure as well and that's something I've heard in the Snowy as well as around Bega and Yass, in all of those communities that significant impact."
Mr Albanese said recent expansions to the eligibility for bushfire recovery grants and increased support for aerial firefighting only came after the Eden-Monaro byelection was called.
"It shouldn't have taken a byelection to get that response given that the business case [for the aerial firefighting expansion] was completed two years ago," Mr Albanese said.
Mr Albanese's comments came ahead of National Bushfire Recovery Agency coordinator Andrew Colvin's appearance at the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements on Thursday. Services Australia's deputy chief executive officer Michelle Lees is also due to appear.