Local projects key to building a more resilient Australia
Federal investment in local-driven mitigation and climate change projects is the only way to build more resilient Australian communities, NSW’s local government sector said today.
Local Government NSW (LGNSW) President Cr Darriea Turley AM said councils were calling on all Federal parties and candidates to support:
- A targeted disaster mitigation program of $200 million a year for four years, which will reduce the costs of response and recovery and strengthen community resilience
- Ensuring betterment funding is included as a core element of disaster recovery funding arrangements
- Ensuring publicly accessible and owned community infrastructure, and local government waste, water and wastewater assets, are included under Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements
- A Local Government Climate Response Partnership Fund of $200 million over four years to enable planning and preparation to minimise the impacts of climate change in local communities and enable councils to achieve climate neutrality as soon as practicable, and
- $100 million a year over four years provided directly to local governments to support the capabilities of indigenous councils and the implementation of the Closing the Gap local/regional voice.
Cr Turley said these priorities had been independently assessed and, if funded, they would create 3,104 jobs and add $470 million a year to Australia’s GDP.
“Councils, as the closest form of government to communities, are always the first on the ground contributing significantly to disaster relief efforts,” Cr Turley said.
“NSW has faced the brunt of many catastrophic natural disasters in the past several years, and the impacts of climate change are causing these events to be more recurrent and severe.
“Right now, Northern NSW is still reeling from the cataclysmic flooding crisis.
“It is becoming more and more challenging for councils to allocate funds to help rebuild their communities, with a huge reliance on Commonwealth funding.
“The Productivity Commission’s Natural Disaster Fund Arrangements report noted that a mere 3 per cent of disaster funds were spent on mitigation preparedness and resilience.
“As part of our advocacy priorities, LGNSW has continuously raised the importance of being better prepared for natural emergency events.
“Our communities need proper support and a targeted mitigation program to manage these emergency events in an ever-changing climate.
“There is also a need for our communities to be ‘built back better’ for the future.
“The current national Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA) only gives communities enough funding to build infrastructure back to its original state.
“This is why LGNSW and other local government associations have continued to call for betterment funding.
“Creating a more resilient state means ensuring infrastructure isn’t rebuilt to its pre-disaster condition and is instead built to endure extreme conditions, saving money in the long run.
“What is also concerning is that a lot of community infrastructure, such as sporting and recreational facilities, libraries and community centres, is not included in the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.
“When natural disasters strike our communities, particularly in regional and rural areas, council halls, libraries and sporting facilities are used as refuges.
“The need to rebuild community facilities is crucial to delivering a locally led economic recovery after a disaster and essential to maintaining our communities’ social networks.
“Proper funding and a thorough plan to tackle disaster readiness will save lives, homes and businesses.
“We need the Commonwealth to work with us to plan and develop more sustainable, resilient environments and communities.”
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