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New $68.5 Million Package To Deal With Natural Disasters

Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government

13th May 2003

The Federal Government has offered to provide an additional $68.5 million over five years to help reduce the threat of natural disasters, the Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government, Wilson Tuckey, said today.

The funding is conditional on the availability of matching funds from the state and territory governments and the implementation by the state, territory and local governments of more effective land use controls.

"The new package - the Disaster Mitigation Australia Package - will fund mitigation measures to help reduce the threat posed by natural disasters such as bushfires, cyclones, floods and landslides," Mr Tuckey said.

"The measures could include:

  • the construction of flood levees;
  • the installation of warning systems; and
  • disaster-resilient infrastructure.

"The Government is already budgeted to spend $14.9 million in 2003-04 and $9.6 million in 2004-05 on the highly successful Regional Flood Mitigation Programme, which funds projects to reduce the impact of flooding in rural, regional and outer metropolitan communities across Australia.

"I am very pleased to announce that today's package includes an additional $9.6 million a year in 2005-06 and 2006-07 to extend the programme. To date, over $30 million has been committed to regional flood mitigation projects, including the building and refurbishing of levees, the voluntary purchase of houses or house raising where appropriate, and channel improvements.

"The new package follows a high-level review of Australia's approach to natural disasters by the Federal, state, territory and local governments. The review concluded that governments should increase our focus on preparedness measures to reduce the threat and impact of natural disasters.

"This new approach aims to create safer communities and reduce the damage caused by natural disasters, which are estimated to cost about $1 billion a year in economic terms and infinitely more in personal suffering. Most recently, we have been reminded of the devastation that natural disasters can cause with the bushfires that raged through NSW, Victoria and the ACT, causing extensive damage and personal hardship.

"The new package will fund mitigation projects on a cost-sharing basis between the Federal Government, state and territory governments, and local government.

"It will enable the three levels of government to collaborate more effectively on reducing the vulnerability of communities at risk," Mr Tuckey said.

The Disaster Mitigation Australia Package will also include reforms to the Natural Disaster Relief Arrangements to provide communities with better support as they recover from natural disasters and improved statutory land-use planning, development and building controls.

Media contact: Graeme Hallett 02 6277 7060 / 0419 688 440