National resilience and recovery agency ‘in place by July 2021’

The Commonwealth will set up a standing national resilience and recovery agency and support other key recommendations of the bushfires royal commission.

Detailing the Federal Government’s response to the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements last week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the new agency will initially incorporate the functions of the National Bushfire Recovery Agency (NBRA) –  and will be set up by 1 July 2021.

The new agency will also integrate the flood functions of the National Drought and North Queensland Flood Response and Recovery Agency, and the Department of Home Affairs disaster recovery and risk reduction functions.

Mr Morrison also said the Government will legislate to give the Commonwealth the power to declare a national emergency and mobilise resources to help states and local communities deal with natural disaster emergencies.

“We will enhance and strengthen national coordination arrangements within Emergency Management Australia to streamline requests for Federal Government assets to assist states and territories in their preparation and response to disasters,” he said.

Of the 55 recommendations specifically involving the Commonwealth, the Government intends to either “support” 33 and “support in principle” 25.

Those recommendations that the Commonwealth supports include:

  • Nationally consistent Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA) assistance;
  • Streamlining DRFA processes;
  • DRFA recovery measures to facilitate resilience; and
  • Incorporating “build back better” principles within DRFAs.

Mr Morrison said a National Emergency Management Ministers Meeting will be initially responsible for driving and coordinating implementation of the royal commission’s recommendations.