This week we have been served with yet more reminders of the importance of helping communities to insulate from the effects of natural disasters with intense storms affecting areas of Queensland.
Natural disasters have a significant economic, social, environmental and political impact on communities, and they are occurring more frequently and producing more severe and longer-term consequences.
It is therefore timely to think about how all levels of government can work together to ensure that our communities are not only prepared for natural disasters, but that they also receive adequate support during the recovery period.
There will be a meeting next week of the Law, Crime and Community Safety Council, the Ministerial Council which deals with emergency management matters, and one of the issues expected to be considered will be the Government's response to the Productivity Commission's inquiry into natural disaster funding.
ALGA and our state association members have strongly opposed the Commission's recommendations to significantly cut relief and recovery support as well as any recommendations to change the small disaster eligibility criterion, which should be maintained at its current level of $240,000. We welcome the Government's initial statement that it will maintain the level of funding and not change the small disaster criterion.
ALGA has also called for greater investment in mitigation funding to reduce the impact of natural disasters on our communities. More investment is needed to assist communities to disaster-proof their infrastructure, as well as allow councils the flexibility of using, and being reimbursed for, their own day labour forces during recovery.
These issues will continue to be significant as we face what looks like a hot summer ahead of us with increased risks of bushfires. A national, coordinated and cooperative effort is needed to enhance the capacity of local and regional communities to identify, withstand and recover from emergencies and disasters.
Mayor Troy Pickard