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Government makes pledge for disaster fund

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Member for McEwen Rob Mitchell says the Federal Government will invest $200 million annually to a disaster prevention and resilience fund.

Mr Mitchell said the government’s Disaster Ready Fund would curb the impacts of natural disasters by investing in prevention projects such as shelters, fire breaks and telecommunications improvements.

“Our local communities have faced significant natural disasters over many years, with devastating loss of life. They are coming all too frequently, and we know firsthand the tragic impact of fires and storms in our region,” he said.

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“Local people know what is needed and we need a government that is prepared to stump up and pay for these essential projects.

“These investments will literally save lives, not to mention the taxpayers’ funds that have to be spent on recovery and repairs when disasters hit.”

Mr Mitchell claimed a similar pledge by the previous government was inadequately funded.

“We will do this by revamping the failed $4.7 billion Emergency Response Fund, which has earned the Morrison government over $750 million in interest, but has not built a single disaster prevention project and has not spent a cent on disaster recovery,” he said.

Mr Mitchell said the previous government’s Emergency Response Fund, ERF, was established in April 2019 and became operational in December the same year, allowing the government to draw up to $200 million annually for disaster recovery and resilience.

He said the ERF could have spent $600 million on disaster recovery and prevention since its establishment but had spent only $17.2 million as of November last year.

He said by the end of the 2020-21 financial year, the ERF had earned $751 million for the government in investment returns.

“It is just another huge example of the Morrison government making promises and not delivering,” he said.

Mr Mitchell said Labor’s Plan for Disaster Readiness would prevent and prepare for future natural disasters and aid rebuilding efforts by: increasing federal investment in disaster prevention and resilience; improving the efficiency of disaster-recovery processes through co-operation with states and territories and disaster-prone communities by simplifying and speeding up payments to disaster victims; continue to fund recovery through the existing Disaster Recovery Funding arrangements; and assist with rising insurance premiums in disaster-prone regions by reducing risk of expensive damage to homes and businesses.

“The Disaster Ready Fund will curb the devastating impacts of natural disasters by investing in important disaster prevention projects,” he said.

“In the short term, this will create local jobs, put downward pressure on insurance premiums and assist regions in COVID recovery. In the long term, investing in mitigation now will save the Federal Government money. It is accepted by the emergency management community that $1 invested into disaster mitigation will save $2 in disaster recovery.”

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