President’s column

For many of our communities across the country, natural disasters are a constant threat. The recent and continuing effects of the powerful ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie remind us that our communities require appropriate support to mitigate the impacts of natural disasters where possible, as well as timely support to recover as quickly as possible from those impacts that cannot be avoided.

Local government has been a strong supporter of the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA) under which the costs of restoring government infrastructure (including local government infrastructure) are shared across the levels of government. We welcome the Federal, and both Queensland and New South Wales State Government’s, quick authorisation of the release of much-needed disaster recovery funds for affected councils in both states.

However, even with the NDRRA, councils still face an enormous burden in trying to meet the costs of infrastructure repairs especially given the scale of some disasters and the lack of sufficient own-source funding to meet the costs not covered by the NDRRA. There is a need to ensure that the NDRRA guidelines are as effective as possible in enabling councils to respond to community needs.

ALGA believes there is a strong case to improve the quality of assets that have taken repeated damage from natural disasters rather than rebuilding to pre-existing (and vulnerable) standards. This requires a focus on ensuring that the betterment component of the NDRRA is meeting the needs of councils. In the face of an increase in extreme weather events, this will save millions of dollars in years to come by ensuring that infrastructure is rebuilt to withstand future severe weather events. It is also essential to enable councils, particularly in remote areas, to use internal day labour on disaster recovery projects.

ALGA has long called for a Federal commitment to more and better targeted mitigation funding to help local government strengthen the resilience of our communities. ALGA has also been active on several working groups through direct and delegated representation such as the Australia-New Zealand Emergency Management Committee.

We will continue to advocate for adequate support for every community to plan for extreme weather events and the flow-through consequences on infrastructure, agriculture, health and wellbeing.


Mayor David O’Loughlin

 ALGA President