Regional councils reap funding for natural disaster recovery


The New South Wales government has revealed that it paid more than $16.5 million to 45 councils in 2013 to restore essential public assets after they were damaged or destroyed in natural disasters.

The funding was allocated to councils through the Natural Disaster Relief Scheme as reimbursement for their emergency works and repairs to their assets such as parks, bridges and other infrastructure as a result of floods, storms and bushfires.

The Department of Finance and Services has called this an increase of approximately $8.1 million on the funding given to regional councils in 2012.

Councils become eligible for state government assistance once the works have been completed and have up to three years to lodge their applications for financial assistance.

Since April 2011, the government has allocated $31.5 million to cover the cost of emergency works and damage to council assets.

The NSW government has also provided funding for natural disaster infrastructure costs under an agreement with the federal government in which it pays for the first $136 million of costs each year.

Under the agreement, the federal government matches the NSW expenditure for costs between $136.2 million and $283 million and beyond, which covers three quarters of all costs.

The announcement of the $16.5 million fund came from Minister for Finance and Services Andrew Constance, who said that recovery is not just a local effort, “it requires us to work together at a state, federal and regional level to help communities rebuild”.

Mr Constance gave a breakdown of some of the costs that the NSW government covered under the scheme.

These included a disaster relief payment of $3,442,488 to Clarence Valley Council for the general clean-up and repairs undertaken following major floods in late 2010.

Mr Constance said the severity of this disaster left council facing a huge clean-up bill.

“The town’s stormwater drainage infrastructure, network of levees and drainage channels suffered major damage during severe storms,” Mr Constance said.

He said under the natural disaster relief assistance program, the council was reimbursed for the cost of all emergency activities, as well as a comprehensive program to rebuild.

The government also allocated $1.6 million to Wagga Wagga City Council to cover its extensive program of restoration work following two severe storms in 2010.

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