The Albanese Government has committed to investing up to $200m per year on disaster prevention and resilience.
The Disaster Ready Fund is aimed at reducing the impacts of natural disasters by investing in projects such as flood levees, sea walls, cyclone shelters, evacuation centres, fire breaks and improvements in telecommunications.
The Labor policy states that “if matched by State, Territory or local governments, the fund would provide up to $400m annually for investment in disaster prevention and resilience.”
This was the position advocated prior to the 2022 Federal election by organisations including the Productivity Commission, the Insurance Council of Australia , the Australian Local Government Association and the Australian Coastal Councils Association.
The Insurance Council of Australia estimated that investment of $400m a year in pre-disaster mitigation would reduce the cost of disaster recovery to Australian Governments and households by more than $19 billion by 2050, providing a substantial return on investment.
Labor’s Plan for Disaster Readiness states it will continue to fully fund disaster recovery through existing Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements, it will cut bureaucratic red tape to deliver disaster funding more quickly, and it will address spiralling insurance premiums in disaster-prone regions.
The policy states: “Thousands of Australians who face bushfires, floods and cyclones every year deserve to be protected by a Federal Government that plans ahead and invests to keep them safe.”
“These investments will literally save lives, not to mention the taxpayers’ funds that have to be spent on recovery and repairs when disasters hit,” the policy states.
Sharon Cadwallader, Chair of the Australian Coastal Councils Association and Mayor of Ballina Shire Council, said the commitment by the Albanese Government is a potential gamechanger for councils attempting to cope with more frequent and severe extreme weather events and coastal hazards.
“For years our Association has advocated for a coordinated national approach like this to managing coastal impacts,” she said. “I know from my own experience, following the recent floods in northern NSW, that the proposed disaster readiness program will make a big difference to communities at risk from climate impacts.”
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