The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) has welcomed the passing of Disaster Ready Fund (DRF) legislation in Parliament today which is set to deliver $200 million annually for vital disaster mitigation projects.
ALGA President, Linda Scott said the funding was critical for protecting Australian communities from disaster events.
“Local government advocacy secured this new Disaster Ready Fund, and we are thrilled the legislation has now passed through the Parliament,” said President Scott.
“Less than 5% of disaster mitigation funding in Australia is currently spent on mitigation and community resilience. This needs to change if we are to protect our communities from increasingly frequent floods, fires and cyclones.”
She said investing in mitigation made economic sense, and would significantly reduce the costs governments incur during recovery.
“We expect that the new funding for local governments will be ready from next year, and will support councils to invest in flood levees, cyclone shelters, fire breaks and evacuation centres.
“In Queensland, Bundaberg’s flood levee has local and state support but the council is still waiting on a $42 million commitment from the Commonwealth.
“Councils already have mitigation projects in the pipeline, and we are working with the Government on the program guidelines to ensure this funding goes where it is most needed and will do the most good,” President Scott said.
The Federal Government’s election commitment to create the Disaster Ready Fund (DRF) was confirmed in the October Budget and passed into law in the House of Representatives today.
Minister for Emergency Management, Murray Watt said by better preparing for natural disasters, lives and livelihoods will be protected, and damage bills from floods, fires and cyclones lowered.
“We will always stand shoulder to shoulder with communities when disasters hit, by providing the necessary support to help them respond and recover,” Minister Watt said.
“But we must also prepare better for the next disasters that hit.
“These amendments transform the former Government’s failed Emergency Response Fund into a dedicated ongoing source of funding for natural disaster resilience and risk reduction initiatives.”
In 2014, the Productivity Commission recommended at least $200 million per year be invested in disaster mitigation. The provision of such funding was a key component of ALGA’s recent pre-election advocacy.