Getting the balance right for natural disaster funding
The Productivity Commission’s Inquiry into Natural Disaster Funding is a once in a generation opportunity to build natural disaster policy for the future.
The severity and frequency of natural disasters is anticipated to increase. Now is the time to re-consider our national objectives and programs to achieve a better balanced approach. This is especially important for the highly exposed parts of regional Australia.
The Australian Government’s current disaster arrangements favour response and recovery over mitigation. This has and will continue to do little to reduce Australia’s risk exposure while increasing costs.
The growing disaster bill and perceived shift in responsibilities has driven this Inquiry. But simply shifting costs will do little to secure better outcomes for Australia.
Reducing Australia’s risk exposure should be the first priority for future natural disaster policy and programs. This will require a rebalancing of expenditure and effort towards mitigation.
Different incentive options should be explored to actively encourage preparedness by all levels of government.
Exposure to risk can never be completely eliminated. Therefore the second priority for disaster policy should be improving recovery arrangements.
Response and recovery need to be about more than helping affected communities to ‘bounce back’. Local renewal and adaptation to help communities achieve a ‘new normal’ should be the main objective.
It is vital that the Australian Government build stronger systems of information to support policy development and implementation across mitigation, response and recovery. This includes making better use of available information and actively seeking to fill gaps on our knowledge.
To read the RAI’s full submission click here.