House debates

Tuesday, 7 February 2023

Questions without Notice

Natural Disasters: Funding

2:37 pm

Photo of Susan TemplemanSusan Templeman (Macquarie, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Territories. Why has the Albanese Labor government ordered an independent review into disaster funding? How will this benefit the Australian community?

2:38 pm

Photo of Kristy McBainKristy McBain (Eden-Monaro, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Territories) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Macquarie for that question and acknowledge the great work she is doing in her community as it continues to recover from not only bushfires but multiple flooding events. I think every Australian who was impacted by the 2019-20 bushfires would have been alarmed at the report that they read that the New South Wales government decided disaster recovery funding based on someone's postcode, not their need. Disasters aren't colour coded, and it would be beneficial for communities if Liberals and Nationals understood that and supported everybody.

The former Morrison government showed absolute disregard and arrogance for communities who had suffered catastrophic events—people who had lost everything. We saw how the previous government determined so many of their funds based on a colour coded spreadsheet. My experience on the ground as a mayor following a major disaster was that people needed money quickly; they needed certainty that financial assistance was coming. What they told me they definitely didn't need was competitive grant funding, which pulled communities apart instead of bringing them together when they needed it. My friend the member for Richmond said yesterday that there was failed support in her area. They were denied extra funding support when they needed it the most.

Natural disasters and their communities shouldn't be politicised. But we've seen this course of action time and time again from those opposite. It is the reason our Prime Minister has announced an independent review into disaster funding arrangements. It will take forward the work government is doing with states and territories to review the jointly funded disaster recovery funding arrangements. We do not need to see another repeat of a funding program that lacks transparency and integrity—another program where dollars flow out depending on your postcode. This country, Australia, was built on mateship, on helping out those in need when they need it, not on who you did or didn't vote for.

The Albanese government will continue to clean up the mess caused by those opposite. We will implement funding that is fair and transparent and we will make sure it goes to the people who need it, when they need it.