After sacking the independent National Resilience and Recovery Commissioner, the Labor Government have announced a new role for one of their own, appointing Senator Tony Sheldon as Special Envoy for Disaster Recovery.
Shadow Emergency Management Minister, Perin Davey, questioned how a Labor insider would do a better job than an arm’s length Commissioner.
“I find it extraordinary that Labor called out our Government for appointing a temporary drought envoy – which identified the need for an independent coordinator, yet here they are getting rid of the Commissioner and going back to what they called ‘jobs for the boys’,” she said.
“We need to know what the Special Envoy will do, what his responsibilities are, what his accountabilities will be and importantly, how much extra resources he gets in terms of staff and salary.
“As a public servant, the NRRA Commissioner, and before him, the Coordinator General for Drought, was accountable to Senate Estimates. We need to know who Senator Sheldon will be accountable to.
Senator Davey said it was far more important for communities impacted by natural disasters to understand how the NRRA will operate now it is being combined with Emergency Management Australia than to see another politician being given a title.
“The people of Lismore are still waiting to see what support there will be for commercial landlords and what the industry specific support packages will look like. An Envoy is only good to them if it leads to on the ground action.
“There is a time and place for envoys but there needs to be clear terms of reference and proper accountability. We need to see how a politician will be better than an independent commissioner,” Senator Davey said.