The Albanese Government has used the broadest possible definition of disaster mitigation and resilience when awarding funds under the newly framed Disaster Ready Fund according to Shadow Emergency Management Minister, Senator Perin Davey.
“When most people think of risk mitigation, they are thinking flood levees, bushfire risk reduction activities and risk resilient roads and infrastructure,” Senator Davey said.
“Admittedly, some of the projects announced under Round One of the Disaster Ready Fund may meet that criteria, others would not immediately draw a link to disaster mitigation.
“I am sure there is justification somewhere in the application, but projects like willow removal in Hobart city or setting a greening target for the Scenic Rim don’t automatically scream disaster mitigation,” she said.
The first round of the DRF was open only to applications from State Governments which Senator Davey said limited the ability for local Government to submit practical infrastructure proposals for flood or other disaster mitigation.
“We know through recent experience that there is a lot of infrastructure that needs to be improved to better withstand natural disasters, and I had hoped the DRF would go part way to fulfilling that need.
“My concern is, while there are certainly some such projects listed here, I’m not sure urban street planting really fits the bill for natural disaster risk reduction.
“The fund established by the Coalition was intended to better prepare local communities for future disasters, not used to just plug gaps in state and territory budgets. There will no doubt be disappointment in communities who have had far too much experience in recent years with natural disasters and who know first-hand what needs to be done .
“And disappointingly there aren’t too many projects that look like they will lead to cheaper insurance premiums in areas where insurance is still being offered.
“Because applications were only accepted from State and Territory Governments, the guidelines that were released were extremely high level, so interpreting what is or isn’t risk mitigation was very subjective.
“I call on the Minister to provide more detail for Round Two to explain the breakdown of funds available for studies compared to shovel ready projects, community well-being compared to infrastructure and the like.
“I am also asking the Minister to open the process to accept applications from Local Government who are the very people who are responsible , not only for disaster repairs and recovery, but also their communities risk resilience,” Senator Davey said.