Shadow Minister for Emergency Management, Senator Perin Davey, is questioning where $150 million of Emergency Response Fund (ERF) commitments has gone after the allocation has disappeared from Government announcements.
Emergency Management Minister, Murray Watt, recently announced increased funding for the CSIRO study with an expanded remit to cover the Clarence, Brunswick and Tweed catchments but said it would be followed by only $75 million to implement the recommendations.
“I am calling on the Federal Government to deliver the full $150 million identified by the former Coalition Government to deliver on the recommendations of the CSIRO Lismore flood study, known as the Northern Rivers Resilience Initiative,” Senator Davey said.
“I welcome the expanded study, I welcome the $75 million – which we had already announced for all NSW local Government Areas affected by floods. But where is the further $150 million?
“Labor made a huge fuss about our Government not drawing on funding from the ERF – yet, what we are seeing now is Labor walking back from our commitments and they are not telling us where that money is going.
“We committed $75 million each to New South Wales and Queensland Governments to spend in flood affected Local Government Areas – not just the Northern Rivers – from the 2021/22 ERF.
“We also announced a further $150 million from the 2022/23 ERF drawdown for projects specifically for Lismore, to be informed by the CSIRO study.
“It now appears the Government will honour the first commitment – limited the NSW Northern Rivers, and completely ignoring the second commitment. Where is it going if not to this project?
Senator Davey said the Government had not been open and transparent about their plans for the ERF, which was designed to provide a stable and permanent income to be available to spend on disaster mitigation and recovery.
“All we have heard from Minister Watt is that he will have a new fund called the Disaster Ready Fund with no detail.
“It sounds like a renaming exercise to me, but I am worried it may also turn into a cash recovery exercise if they reduce the investment amount in the new fund.
“I call on Minister Watt to ensure the full balance of the Emergency Response Fund be retained for emergency and disaster mitigation, response and recovery.
“I also call on him to deliver on the commitment for the full $150 million 2022/23 drawdown to go towards delivering on the recommendations of the CSIRO flood study,” Senator Davey said.