Senate debates

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Questions without Notice: Additional Answers

Western Australian Bushfires

3:04 pm

Photo of George BrandisGeorge Brandis (Queensland, Liberal Party, Attorney-General) Share this | | Hansard source

I have some further information for Senator Wang in relation to the question he asked me a short while ago, which has been provided by my colleague, Mr Keenan, the Minister for Justice, who has direct portfolio responsibility for this matter. It has been obtained by my agile and nimble advisers in the last half hour.

Senator Wang, I can tell you that yesterday The West Australian newspaper reported that the cost to the harvest in the affected areas will be approximately $150 million. That is obviously a very early estimate. As yet, there is no available costing of the cost to public infrastructure or the cost to private property other than that estimate of the cost to the harvest. We know that several homes have been destroyed, so there will obviously be a substantial cost to private assets, but until insurance claims have been lodged and loss assessors have been engaged to value the losses we will not be able to arrive at a precise estimate of the cost in terms of private and public assets. That $150 million figure for the cost to agriculture is the only published figure that is available to us.

I touched on this in the answer to your question, Senator Wang. The National Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements make provision for the Western Australian government to activate immediate recovery assistance to assist local government and communities to recover from these events. The operation of the NDRRA is by application made by the Western Australian state government. I am advised that the NDRRA has not yet been activated by the Western Australian government. The Commonwealth will continue to liaise with the Western Australian government regarding recovery assistance. We will seek to be responsive, subject to the guidelines, where we are able to be, and we will monitor the impact of these events.