President’s column – 15 July 2022

WIN! Advocacy for increased disaster mitigation spending rewarded.

We applaud the Albanese Government for prioritising greater investment in long-term disaster mitigation measures that will grow the resilience of our communities.

Floods that have again devasted Greater Sydney, the Hunter Valley, and surrounding areas show resilience spending must be ratcheted up.

That has been ALGA’s long-standing policy position, and our consistent calls for additional funding were rewarded last week when the Albanese Government said greater investment in disaster mitigation was a high priority.

Once legislative changes to the $4.6 billion Emergency Response Fund are complete, councils and state governments will be able to apply for new funding for mitigation projects.

The announcement by the Federal Minister for Emergency Management, Senator the Hon Murray Watt, follows our success in getting Labor to commit to investing $200 million each year in disaster mitigation through a new Disaster Ready Fund.

After years of obfuscation about increasing extreme weather risks, the Albanese Government’s proactive attitude to mitigation spending is refreshing.

We also commend Prime Minster Anthony Albanese’s recent comments about the need for greater cooperation by governments in floodplain planning and development.

All options must be on the table as we look at the lessons from these latest floods, including land swaps and buybacks.

The relocation of Grantham after the deadly floods in 2011 is a standout example of what our three tiers of government can achieve when we work together on practical solutions.

This is resource-intensive, and as we strive to keep our communities as safe as possible from natural disasters ALGA will continue to call for councils to be adequately supported.

Did you know there were 1,043,776 unoccupied dwellings on the night of the 2021 Census?

This statistic is one aspect of an affordable housing and rental crisis that is having significant social and economic impacts in cities and towns across Australia, including rural and regional communities.

I said in an ABC Radio National interview this week that while we have few levers at our disposal, councils are working hard to make a difference, including managing the impacts of online holiday rental platforms.

The scale of this problem demands a national summit, and I will continue to call for this as a precursor to developing a national housing strategy (with local government input).

We will also keep calling for federal government funding of $200 million over four years to help councils develop and implement innovative housing partnerships like those outlined in the Local Government Association of Queensland’s (LGAQ) housing action plan published this week.

Linda Scott,
ALGA President