Hawkesbury set to be among areas to benefit from Labor’s $200m a year plan for disaster readiness
We have our fair share of natural disasters in the Hawkesbury, and we’ve seen most of them in the last couple of years, but what we haven’t seen is an evacuation centre west of the river, and we could do with more fire breaks, as well as reliable communications right across our region.
Greens Road - still not repaired almost a year after being damaged by flood waters. MP Susan Templeman and Shadow Minister for Disaster and Emergency Management Murray Watt last month spoke with residents at Lower Portland
Federal Labor says we’ll be getting help like that thanks to a promised $200m a year on disaster prevention and resilience which they plan to invest should they get voted into Federal power come this year’s election.
Labor’s Disaster Ready Fund, which has just been announced, would invest in the type of projects mentioned in a bid to help curb the devastating impacts of natural disasters, Maquarie MP Susan Templeman says.
The announcement of the dedicated mitigation fund has been welcomed by IAG, Australia’s largest insurer, which has been highlighting the importance of greater investment in mitigation for years.
The pledge has been given a thumbs up by the Insurance Council of Australia, which has called Labor’s plan “a crucial change in the face of worsening extreme weather”.
“The Insurance Council has long been calling for the level of investment in resilience measures to be increased, and we warmly welcome today’s announcement by Federal Labor,” said Andrew Hall, chief executive officer of Insurance Council of Australia.
“Regardless of the outcome of this year’s election, the next Australian government needs to invest in stronger homes and infrastructure that makes communities more resilient in the face of worsening extreme weather.”
Flashback - Macquarie MP Susan Templeman and Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese address the media during the Black Summer bushfires in Bilpin on December 20, 2019
Nick Hawkins, managing director and CEO of insurance giant IAG, said Labor’s plan is “a positive step forward for the nation”.
“Over many years we’ve highlighted the importance of greater investment in mitigation initiatives to help protect communities before disasters strike and we welcome Labor’s commitment to establish a fund dedicated to help achieve this,” Mr Hawkins said.
“Not only does investment in mitigation have the benefit of helping to protect lives, homes, businesses, and critical infrastructure, it helps to reduce the extensive cost of recovering from these disasters.”
“People living in bushfire and flood-prone areas like the Hawkesbury deserve to be protected by a Federal Government who plans ahead and invests to keep them safe,” Ms Templeman said.
“Over the past two years, our area has seen the world’s worst bushfire from a single ignition point, destroying homes and businesses.
“It’s seen floods that carved huge holes into riverbanks and inundated local roads, some of which still haven’t been repaired nearly 12 months on.
“But what has the Morrison Government done to improve our resilience?
“Have we been given evacuation centres that could offer people shelter when they had to leave their homes?
“Are there extra water sources in bushfire zones?
“Do we have foolproof telecommunications?
“The answer is a resounding no. All we’ve got is a Prime Minister who doesn’t hold a hose.
“The Morrison Government continues to sit on a $4.7 billion Emergency Response Fund (ERF) that, three years after it was announced, has not spent a cent on disaster recovery and has not completed a single disaster prevention project.
“The only thing it has done is earn the government more than $750 million in investment returns,” say Ms Templeman.
“Labor will revamp the failed ERF so that it spends up to $200 million per year for disaster prevention and resilience.”
Funding would be matched by state or local governments, providing up to $400 million annually for investment in disaster prevention and resilience - something called for by groups as broad as the government’s own Productivity Commission, insurers, local governments and disaster relief bodies.
Ms Templeman says Labor’s Plan for Disaster Readiness will also:
• Continue to fully fund disaster recovery through the existing Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements
• Cut red tape so disaster resilience funding can get out the door faster, speeding up payments to disaster victims and repairs to damaged infrastructure.
• Assist with spiralling insurance premiums in disaster-prone regions, by reducing the risk of damage to homes and businesses.
“As with COVID-19, the Morrison Government’s failure to plan and prepare for natural disasters continues to leave areas like the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury vulnerable,” Ms Templeman said.
“It doesn’t have to be this way. We need a government that rolls up its sleeves and helps keep communities strong in the face of natural disasters.”
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