Disaster mitigation a must in next Tuesday’s Federal Budget

With more than three million Australian homes and businesses at risk, the Government must prioritise funding for natural disaster mitigation in next week’s Federal Budget.

Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) President Linda Scott said the NSW and Queensland floods showed Australia is failing to adequately plan for natural disasters.

“These floods have devastated our communities, with at least 21 lives lost and thousands of homes, properties, and businesses wiped out,” Cr Scott said.

“We can’t keep doing the same thing and hoping for different results – we need to spend more upfront on mitigation and community resilience or we will see this scenario played out time and time again.”

“In 2014 the Productivity Commission recommended investing at least $200 million per year in disaster mitigation, and that’s what we’re asking for.”

“Local governments and our communities also advocating for $200 million over four years to support us to address the impacts of climate change at a local level, to reduce the frequency and severity of future events.”

“We owe it to our communities – particularly those that are vulnerable to fires and floods – to invest in infrastructure that will protect them in the years to come.”

Data published by Climate Valuation has identified more than one million properties across 30 local government areas that are exposed to low, moderate, or high-risk riverine flooding.

Brisbane has the greatest number of properties exposed to a high risk of riverine flooding. Other high-risk local government areas include Gold Coast, Greater Shepparton, Ballina, Wangaratta, Port Phillip, Tweed, Charles Sturt, Western Downs, and Logan.

Cr Scott said mitigation funding would help these local governments prepare for future events, and minimise the impact on their communities.

“Across our nation, councils have identified dozens of mitigation projects they could deliver with support from other tiers of government,” Cr Scott said.

“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.”

Natural disasters are already estimated to cost Australia $38 billion a year on average, and that figure could rise as high as $94 billion by 2060 under a high-emissions scenario, according to research by Deloitte Access Economics.

“Investing in mitigation makes economic sense, but more importantly, will save lives as we continue to face increasingly frequent and severe disaster events,” Cr Scott said.