Emergency Minister Addresses Resilience Summit

31st July 2022

Murray Watt has delivered his first major speech as federal Emergency Management Minister at the From Risk to Resilience Summit in Sydney, announcing a number of natural disaster risk management and response initiatives.

The Summit was hosted by the National Recovery and Resilience Agency and the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience to develop inputs to the next national action plan under the National Disaster Risk Reduction Framework.

Minister Watt said “Disaster risk, as all of you know, is growing faster than we are reducing it. So while infrastructure like flood levees and evacuation shelters will be critical for us to invest in, we need to address the root causes of disaster risk as well. Issues like poor population and land use planning, underinsurance, poor governance or lack of accountability will be critical.

And what I'm also aware of is that people experiencing poverty and inequality are at greatest risk from disasters. More often than not, it's not the wealthy people living in the cheap land on the floodplain, it’s the people who can't afford to live on top of the hill. And that's very much in my mind, because they do tend to be impacted first, worst and longest.”

Minister Watt said he is already progressing plans to establish a Disaster Ready Fund which will provide up to $200 million per year on ongoing basis for disaster prevention, and resilience initiatives. This was recommended by the 2014 Productivity Commission Report on Natural Disaster Funding Arrangements, and has regularly been brought to the attention of policy makers by FMA. 

Minister Watt announced that he had signed off on the Northern Rivers Resilience Initiative in northern New South Wales, a rapid study with the CSIRO to focus on better understanding the climate catchment and hydrological drivers of flooding in the region.

The project will assess different scenarios, and consider the broader influences of land use practice and infrastructure to identify and prioritise options for flood mitigation projects. It will also provide detailed mapping, analysing and modelling within the region, to inform future planning and investment. 

The Minister is also progressing a review into the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements “to ensure that our recovery is quicker and more streamlined, but also to see how we can build resilience into this multi-billion dollar program.”

You can read the Minister’s speech at: https://minister.homeaffairs.gov.au/MurrayWatt/Pages/Australias-action-to-reduce-systemic-disaster-risk.aspx

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