The recent severe weather, and in particular the flooding, experienced in parts of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia has once again brought to the forefront the importance of natural disaster mitigation funding and the urgent need for additional investment to improve the resilience of our local communities.
Local government has been a strong supporter of the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA) under which the costs of restoring government infrastructure are shared across the levels of government with the Commonwealth committing to meet up to 75 per cent of those costs, subject to adequate insurance arrangements being in place at the jurisdictional level. However, even with the NDRRA, councils still face an enormous burden in trying to meet the costs of infrastructure repairs especially given the lack of sufficient own-source funding to meet the costs not covered by the NDRRA.
ALGA has long called for a Federal commitment to more and better targeted mitigation funding to help local government strengthen the resilience of local communities. In its 2016-17 Federal Budget submission, ALGA called for a commitment from the Government to fund a targeted disaster mitigation program at a level of $200 million per annum. The value of mitigation measures, particularly flood mitigation measures, is well understood and offers substantial long-term returns to the Commonwealth when councils are supported to make that investment in mitigation infrastructure and tangible projects on the ground such as levees, property acquisition and houseraising.
Given the scale and continued impacts of recent natural disasters, and warnings that more frequent and more severe natural disasters can be expected in the future, it is vital that we find better ways to strengthen our communities and assist councils to reduce the escalating relief and recovery costs of disaster events.
Mayor Troy Pickard