Calls for increased disaster mitigation funding in budget

The Australian Business Roundtable for Disaster Resilience and Safer Communities (the Roundtable)– led by the CEOs of IAG, Munich Re, Australian Red Cross, Investa Property Group, Optus and Westpac Group has made a submission to Treasury as part of the Australian Government’s preparation of the 2017-18 Budget.

In keeping with the Government’s stated objectives for the Budget of ensuring the future of government services and providing the services the community needs and expects, the Roundtable has reinforced its calls for increased disaster mitigation funding to build resilience and minimise devastating natural disaster impacts, as well as delivering longer term savings to the Budget.

The Roundtable recommends the Australian Government undertake the following as part of the 2017-2018 Federal Budget:

1. Increase the total Australian Government investment in disaster risk reduction and mitigation to $200 million per year or takes a first and significant step toward this total; and

2. Continue the National Partnership Agreement beyond June 2017 with appropriate funding attached as a part of its overall commitment to mitigation.

Upfront investment in disaster mitigation has the potential to not only lessen potential devastation and suffering experienced by individuals, but also result in a positive net impact on future budgets. Consistent with the recommendations of the Roundtable, the Productivity Commission has also recommended that mitigation funding to the States increase to $200m per year with matched contributions. Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Outlook 2016’s ‘Statement of Risks’ identifies the financial risk of payments to states and territories after natural disasters.

From a purely budgetary perspective, greater upfront investment in effective mitigation measures should be a priority. For communities at risk of a natural disaster event, it is essential.

The submission states “We cannot prevent natural disasters and extreme weather events from occurring, but we can harness the best practice, evidence and experience available to build more resilient and safer communities better able to withstand the extreme and unpredictable forces of nature. This Budget is a timely opportunity for the Australian Government to take the lead and commit to long term annual consolidated funding for pre-disaster mitigation and resilience”.