Senate debates

Thursday, 9 March 2023

Questions without Notice

Natural Disasters

2:58 pm

Photo of Murray WattMurray Watt (Queensland, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) Share this | Hansard source

Thank you, Senator Sheldon, for another question on an issue that I know you are very interested in and work very hard on. Before I directly answer the question, I note that yet again in northern Australia we are facing serious rainfall over coming days, particularly in the Northern Territory and northwest Queensland, an area that I know Senator McDonald is very familiar with. Senator Green had spoken about this issue as well, and I know that all our best wishes go to people in those areas to stay safe. Please remain aware of emergency warnings in coming days and that famous slogan that too many people ignore: if it's flooded, forget it. Let's all take care over the coming days.

Senator Sheldon, as you know, the Albanese government knows that as Australia faces more intense and more frequent natural disasters due to climate change we need to be better prepared. That's why we've established the Disaster Ready Fund, our flagship disaster resilience and mitigation fund. The Disaster Ready Fund will invest up to $200 million in federal funding every year in disaster mitigation and resilience measures, and, where possible, that funding will be matched by states, territories and local governments where they are partners in these projects. These measures that this fund will provide funding for could be used for everything from seawalls to evacuation centres and drainage improvements; for things like community preparedness plans and training programs. I'm pleased to say that applications for the first round of our new Disaster Ready Fund closed on Monday this week, and they are now being assessed by an independent panel. That funding won't become available until 1 July this year, but we've deliberately got moving quickly early this year so that we're ready to go once that time frame arrives.

We also know that we need targeted support for communities still recovering from the devastating 2022 February-March floods, along with all of the other floods that we saw last year. As I mentioned earlier this week, we recently announced the first phase of funding for the Northern Rivers, and there's going to be a lot more to come because mitigation matters. (Time expired)


No comments