The Australian Parliament has passed amendments to ensure up to $200 million a year in disaster funding focuses solely on mitigating the impacts of natural disasters.
The Albanese Government’s election commitment to create the Disaster Ready Fund (DRF) was confirmed in the October Budget and passed into law in the House of Representatives today.
Minister for Emergency Management, Murray Watt said by better preparing for natural disasters we can protect lives and livelihoods, and lower damage bills from floods, fires and cyclones.
“We will always stand shoulder to shoulder with communities when disasters hit, by providing the necessary support to help them respond and recover,” Minister Watt said.
“But we must also prepare better for the next disasters that hit.
“The DRF was confirmed in last month’s budget, with up to $1 billion made available over the next five years for important disaster mitigation projects.
“We also know that the most effective way to bring down insurance premiums is to better safeguard properties from the impacts of natural disasters.
“These amendments transform the former Government’s failed Emergency Response Fund into a dedicated ongoing source of funding for natural disaster resilience and risk reduction initiatives.
“The fund will provide up to $200 million per year to invest in mitigation projects like flood levees, cyclone shelters, fire breaks and evacuation centres around Australia.”
Minister Watt said over three years, Scott Morrison’s Emergency Response Fund didn’t complete a single mitigation project or release a cent in recovery funding, while earning the former Government over $800 million in interest.
“This left us dangerously unprepared for increasing natural disasters,” he said.
“The Albanese Government won’t repeat the mistakes of the previous Government.
“We’ve already started extensive consultation with state, territory and local governments and as well as with industry around what projects we can focus on in the first tranche of funding.
“Eligibility criteria will be released in the new year.”
Funding for natural disaster recovery efforts will also continue through other sources, including through Commonwealth and State Government Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.
Already this year more than $3 billion has been paid out in disaster relief payments by the Australian Government.
The Disaster Ready Fund builds upon other measures designed to strengthen Australia’s disaster management response, including the creation of the new National Emergency Management Agency, new funding for Disaster Relief Australia to support recovery efforts, a collaboration with insurers to drive down premiums and the establishment of a Special Envoy for Disaster Recovery.