Friday, 30 June 2023
Media release

Nearly $1.8 billion relief for disaster-impacted councils

​​Joint media release with the Hon Tony Burke MP, acting Minister for Emergency Management, the Hon Kristy McBain and Senator Tony Sheldon

Councils across Australia will be able to fast-track local repair works following two devastating years of floods, fires and cyclones, with the Albanese Government to advance nearly $1.8 billion in disaster payments to the states.

The payments will help all levels of government get on with the massive job of repairing roads and essential public assets after years of disasters.

Since January 2022, jointly funded Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA) have been activated for 65 disasters in 332 unique Local Government Areas (LGA). This represents over 61 per cent of Australia’s 539 LGAs recognised by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

Advance payments totalling almost $1.8 billion will be paid to the majority of states under the State and Commonwealth funded DRFA. The funding program was offered to all disaster-impacted states with reconstruction costs passing the threshold for Commonwealth contribution, with most accepting the offer.

Under the DRFA, payments are generally made after a state has submitted an audited claim for financial assistance, following reconstruction works. However, in the last two years we have seen compounding, concurrent natural disasters across every state in Australia, with recovery hampered by COVID and all the challenges that have come with it. In recognition of these exceptional circumstances, the Albanese Government is making these funds available up front. The payments represent 40 per cent of the estimated amount the Albanese Government would contribute under the DRFA for 2021-22 and 2022-23.

Breakdown of advance payments by state
StateBudget Estimate For Disaster Recovery 2023-24*Advance Payment
TOTAL  $1,787,820,431

* Based on estimates provided from the states to the Commonwealth

Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Territories Kristy McBain said the funding allocation was in response to calls from the states, local governments and peak bodies.

“During the Australian Council of Local Government conference in Canberra this month, Mayors and Council representatives were clear about the growing need for more up-front help, and I’m very pleased the Albanese Government has been able to deliver that so quickly,” Minister McBain said.

“Councils are on the frontline of disasters, and we need to ensure they are adequately supported both in planning for and recovering from disasters.”

Special Envoy for Disaster Recovery, Senator Tony Sheldon said the one-off advance payment would assist all levels of government to focus on community recovery. “With many communities suffering from reoccurring disasters, it’s clear the financial burden is weighing on flood-impacted regions,” Senator Sheldon said.

“When I visit communities, undoubtedly the recovery workload, and the costs associated with that are creating challenges for local Councils – they’re finding it particularly difficult to keep up with repairs to roads and other infrastructure such as bridges, culverts, levees, bike lanes and footpaths.

“The Albanese Government has listened to local councils, and in close partnership with the states, we will assist regions to access the support they need, when they need it.

“These payments have already been delivered to the states, and we’ve made it clear that we expect it to be hitting the ground quickly.

“I want to thank the states for taking up this offer and jointly recognising the real community need on the ground.

“Having safe and functional infrastructure is important, and we will continue to work with all levels of government to ensure that the assistance on offer is fit for purpose.”

Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) President Councillor Linda Scott said the advance payments would be welcomed by disaster-impacted councils, especially in regional and remote areas.

“This fast-tracked federal funding will play a key role in helping our disaster-impacted communities recover and rebuild,” Cr Scott said.

“We have consistently advocated for the need for faster disaster recovery payments, and we are thrilled that the Government has heard our call and responded with this once-off advance payment.

“It’s also fantastic to see this announcement is a direct and positive response to the Government re-establishing the Australian Council of Local Government.”

An independent review, commissioned by the Albanese Government, is currently underway into disaster funding arrangements. More information about the Review is available here: Independent Review into Commonwealth Disaster Funding