Emergency Response Fund

Tuesday’s Budget announced the establishment of a new $3.9B Emergency Response Fund. The Fund will be established through legislation as a Commonwealth Investment Fund, and will allocate up to $150M per annum for natural disaster recovery and response initiatives above and beyond existing funding for severe and catastrophic disasters. The additional funding will not interfere with the DRFA (Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements).

The Fund will commence on 1 October 2019. The initial size of the Fund will be $3.9B which has been transferred from the dormant Education Investment Fund, to generate $150M per year for 5 years, and thereafter a rolling 5 year average.

The EMA will be working with the Department of Finance (which will be managing the Fund) on oversight and governance arrangements prior to commencement of the Fund on 1 October, 2019. The EMA will consult with States and Territories and ALGA on this in the coming months.

Minister Dutton’s media release on the Fund is available at https://minister.homeaffairs.gov.au/peterdutton/Pages/a-safer-and-more-secure-australia.aspx.

The fund will apply to natural disaster recovery and response, and is not expected to include mitigation or betterment funding, which is dealt with under the existing Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (formerly known as the NDRRA). However, as the Fund will be established under legislation, it will be debated in Parliament and be therefore be subject to negotiation after the election. This means there may be the possibility for mitigation funding to be included in the Fund.

ALGA has been advocating for a targeted disaster mitigation program at a level of $200 million per year, if this fund is open to proactive measures to protect communities, it would be a great step forward.