The Australian Labor Party government has pledged $ 200 million annually to work directly on building strong disaster risk reduction mechanisms across Australia.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese has nationwide called for Australia to work to mitigate the effects of natural disasters before they occur, rather than simply pouring money in the form of disaster relief. rice field.
The $ 200 million annual figure is drawn from an existing emergency response fund established in 2019 by the incumbent Liberal Government in the midst of Australia’s severe “Black Summer” wildfire.
“People tend to pay attention when a disaster strikes, but they need to pay attention when a disaster does not occur,” Albanese said. Said ABC radio.
Over the last 50 years, Australia has been blamed for severe droughts, wildfires, cyclones and floods. Of these, the Black Summer wildfire was the most devastating at an estimated cost of over $ 100 billion.
Most recently, the city of Oakhurst, Queensland, had to evacuate on weekends after cyclones had torrential rains in parts of the state, and rainwater surged into the city through stormwater drainage channels. did.
“We need to be better prepared by investing in projects such as flood embankments, seawalls, shelters and firebreaks,” says Albanese.
The Productivity Commission estimates that 97% of all disaster funding is spent on post-accident cleanup and only 3% is spent on future preparations.
Albanese’s announcement will spend $ 600 million over six years on the Australian Preparatory Program in response to the Royal Commission’s recommendations on Australia’s financial response to natural disasters after the current Morrison government announced in May 2021. Announced. This follows the creation of the $ 4 billion Emergency Relief Fund three years ago.
However, Albanese said he believed that the funds were not fully utilized for future events.
“They spend only $ 17 million and have completed more than one disaster preparedness project, not one,” he says. Said sunrise.
This announcement has been praised by the Australian Municipal Association (ALGA), the highest body of all Australian municipalities.
ALGA President Linda Scott said the decision was crucial in supporting local governments that lacked financial means to prepare for serious events.
“Physical mitigation measures such as flood levees and stormwater catchments can be costly, especially for small rural, coastal, and river councils with a small payer base,” Scott said. Said..
“Local governments need to increase the certainty of support and funding in order to mitigate and manage the impact of future natural disasters on their communities.”
Scott also said new analysis revealed that the move would bring in new jobs and stimulate the country’s economic recovery.
“According to an independent analysis we commissioned, an annual investment of $ 200 million in disaster mitigation will create up to 1833 new jobs and add $ 280 million to our GDP,” she said. Told.
This move was also welcomed by the Insurance Australia Group (IAG).
“Investing in mitigation not only helps protect lives, homes, businesses and critical infrastructure, but also helps reduce the enormous costs of recovering from these disasters,” IAG Money said. Nick Hawkins, Jing Director and CEO, said. Said..
The billions of losses caused by the Black Summer wildfire included the destruction of thousands of homes and buildings.
“Today, there are communities across the country suffering from the effects of cyclones, floods and wildfires. Focus from all levels of government on protecting vulnerable communities and identifying opportunities to achieve them. It is important to continue to assess investment, “Hawkins said.