Monday, 6 March 2023
Questions without Notice
Thank you, Senator Sheldon, for your ongoing work as the government's envoy for disaster recovery, supporting me and all flood victims in the ongoing task of recovery. I'd like to acknowledge again that this first anniversary has been a very difficult time for many Australians. The flooding event that we saw in February 2022 devastated communities across the east coast of Australia, and it has been, and will be, a long road towards recovery.
As a government, we've been working very hard, along with those affected communities in New South Wales and Queensland, to ensure that they are able to not just recover from those floods back in February last year but build back in a more resilient way. Financial recovery that has now been provided totals in the billions of dollars for a range of programs across a range of floods last year, and those programs assist primary producers, small businesses, homeowners, charities, landlords, councils and many others. In the Northern Rivers of New South Wales alone, more than $1 billion has been provided jointly with the New South Wales government in support payments directly to residents. But we know that there's a long way yet to go.
While the Albanese government is focused on recovery, we're also focused on being better prepared for future disasters. That's why we've rolled out resilience and betterment projects in disaster-prone regions; passed legislation and opened applications for our flagship Disaster Ready Fund; unified the two arms of federal emergency management to create a new National Emergency Management Agency; provided pathways out of harm's way for people, through investment in voluntary home buybacks and taking action on future floodplain builds; invested in Disaster Relief Australia to provide recovery and clean-up support after disasters; commissioned an independent review into national disaster funding arrangements to ensure funding is hitting the right areas; and invested in flood research and many other things. The Albanese government knows that the job is not over and will continue to support communities impacted by natural disasters.