Uncertainty remains over disaster mitigation funding

By Rob O’Brien

An increase in funding for the Natural Disaster Mitigation Program (NDMP) is by no means guaranteed, despite assertions from the federal government that it is committed to future funding.
The Federal Government said it would consider funding arrangements for disaster mitigation, but stopped short of offering extra funding after June, when funding through the NDMP is due to end.
Natural disasters cause more than $1 billion damage each year to Australian homes, businesses and the nation’s infrastructure, along with serious disruption to communities.
A spokesman for the Attorney-General, who is responsible for the NDMP, said: “The Government is 100 per cent committed to disaster mitigation and is actively considering the best way to support effective disaster mitigation into the future, as part of the current budget process. The NDMP is fully funded through to the end of the financial year.”
“The terrible tragedy in Victoria, and the widespread flooding in North Queensland, is an awful reminder of the threat posed by natural disasters to communities right across the country.

”The Australian Government will support vital bush fire, flood, and other natural disaster mitigation efforts into the future," the spokesman added.

Local government is keen to ensure that more funding is directed to communities dealing with natural disasters.
President of the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) Geoff Lake, who has written to the Attorney-General to inquire about funding, said that councils needed more support particularly with the number of disasters rising.
"There has been uncertainty over whether this program would continue to be funded, with funding only locked in until the end of June," Cr Lake said.

"It’s been a very successful program. With the flooding in Queensland at the moment and also [the bushfires in] Victoria, there’s a lot to be gained from proactive planning and preventing of disasters, because the consequences surrouding significant events show the value of money spent in mitigation, rather than response." 

Cr Lake said the Attorney-General had told him he was currently considering the issue.

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