By Colin MacGillivray

DATA released by the Climate Council identifies Nicholls as the most at-risk electorate in Australia for the effects of climate change, with a quarter of the region’s homes projected to be uninsurable within a decade.

The national non-profit organisation today released its report titled Uninsurable Nation: Australia’s Most Climate-Vulnerable Places, examining the impact of climate change on home insurance across Australia.

The report found riverine flooding was the biggest threat to homes in the next 10 years, with Nicholls towns such as Seymour and Shepparton at high risk of flooding from the Goulburn River.

It projected that about 27 per cent of Nicholls properties would be uninsurable by 2030, far above the national average of 3.6 per cent.
Economist Nicki Hutley, a Climate Council member and former partner at Deloitte Access Economics, said Australia was becoming an ‘uninsurable nation’.

“Skyrocketing costs or flat-out insurance ineligibility are becoming more and more widespread under climate change,” she said.

“As an economist, I find these new numbers shocking and deeply concerning. I urge all Australians to … understand the risk they and their communities face as we progress through this critical make-or-break climate decade.”

The Review asked several Nicholls election candidates about their stance on climate change and what could be done to mitigate impacts locally ahead of this month’s election.

Independent candidate Rob Priestly said he was aware of the risks climate change posed to the region.

“In particular, hotter and drier summers present a substantial risk to our fruit growing businesses and farms reliant on captured water for irrigation,” he said.

“We can’t afford to delay getting a sensible plan in place to reduce emissions. Reaching a net-zero target by 2050 will be challenging, but delays will mean more cost later which isn’t fair on our children.

“Australia’s transition to net-zero emissions provides the Goulburn Valley with massive opportunities to be a renewables powerhouse, especially in bioenergy.

“We produce the highest quantity of agricultural biomass and waste per hectare in Australia, are a major food manufacturing and transport hub, and have the population and skills base to work in these industries.

“I want to see government policies implemented that create the right investment and regulatory environment to see viable projects tested and scaled, so we can contribute to the net-zero task and bring economic opportunity to our region.”

Nationals candidate Sam Birrell said the University of Melbourne’s Victoria Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub provided a road map for climate change mitigation.

“The Victoria hub, which will be led from the University of Melbourne’s Dookie campus in the electorate of Nicholls, has received $8 million in funding over the next four years from the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund.

It is one of eight drought resilience hubs across Australia,” he said.

“The [hub] will play a critical role connecting unique state-wide partnerships to help farmers, agricultural businesses and communities become more resilient to the impacts of future droughts with innovative technologies and practices.

“It will also translate research and knowledge into impactful outcomes and support take-up through testing, adoption, and scaling-up of new solutions and commercialisation.

”Labor candidate Bill Lodwick said he did not believe climate change was a pressing issue for the region despite the Climate Council report.

“I would have thought people in central Australia were a bit more at risk than people in Victoria,” he said.

“Sure, the climate is changing, but there is no reason to panic about it. There is no urgent need to change anything. Climate changes slowly.

“Labor has a very clear and well-understood policy on this. They want to get [carbon emissions] down to 43 per cent by 2030.”

Liberal candidate Steve Brooks and Greens candidate Ian Christoe did not respond to the Review before yesterday’s print deadline.