Friday, February 23, 2024

Deputy Premier hails nation’s first ‘Betterment Fund’ a success for local councils

Queensland Deputy Premier, Steven Miles says the state’s Betterment Fund has generated more than $391 million in savings or avoided costs for councils and state agencies, as the program marks its 10th anniversary.

In a joint statement with Federal Minister for Emergency Management, Murray Watt, the Ministers said the fund – Australia’s first – had shown how rebuilding impacted assets to a more resilient standard saves the public money and minimises the impacts of future disasters.

The Fund supports local governments and state agencies to rebuild essential public assets to a more resilient standard so they can better withstand the force of Mother Nature.

Works vary widely across vital infrastructure and can include the stabilisation or resurfacing of roads, bridge upgrades or construction, and the expansion of floodways or other drainage solutions.

“Betterment helps local councils build back better following a disaster, reducing future impacts on Queensland communities and minimising recovery bills when the next disaster strikes,” said Mr Miles.

“Since 2013 then more than 520 projects valued at over $263 million across 70 Queensland local government areas have been approved with Betterment funds.

“In addition to 2013, damaged infrastructure has been built back better in 2015 following STC Marcia, 2017 following STC Debbie, and 2019 in response to the North Queensland Floods.

“Most recently, $170 million in Betterment funding has been made available to build back essential public infrastructure damaged during the 2021-22 disaster season.”

The Fund was established in 2013 by the Queensland Reconstruction Authority (QRA) following Severe Tropical Cyclone (STC) Oswald.

The QRA is currently managing an active delivery program estimated at $6 billion, comprising works from 31 events across the 2019-20 to 2022-23 disaster seasons.

“Throughout the last decade, Queenslanders have faced disproportionately more floods, fire, cyclones and drought than any other state, and in many instances these occurred concurrently or in quick succession,” said Minister Watt.

“We understand it has been a challenge, as communities, local and state governments are tested time and time again.

“Their unified efforts to create positive outcomes for those who have faced the worst are commendable, and the Albanese Government is proud to support those efforts, through our joint funding.

“One aspect of reducing the impact of future disasters is to build back better, not just restore, damaged infrastructure. Another is to invest in disaster risk reduction projects through the Albanese Government’s Disaster Ready Fund,” he said.

“Betterment showcases the strength and results that come from all levels of government working together to improve the resilience of Queensland communities,” said Mr Miles.

The Betterment program is jointly funded by the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA).

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