The State Opposition has welcomed the announcement of an independent inquiry into Australia’s disaster funding arrangements.
Shadow Minister for Emergency Services has warned there is more the State Government could and should be doing now whilst the review is conducted.
“This independent inquiry was first announced by then Federal Minister for Emergency Management, and Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie and despite the delay, it is welcome to see the new Federal Government continuing with it,” Mr Aldridge said.
“It is no secret that Australia is prone to natural disasters and as our climate continues to change, we will see the prevalence and intensity of such events only increase.”
Mr Aldridge said natural disasters cost the Australian economy on average $38 billion per annum with that cost likely to almost double by mid-century.
“It is critical government remains focused on mitigating the affects of natural disaster and building resilience across communities,” he said.
“Our efforts to incentivise and support strategic investments to mitigate risks must feature more strongly when compared with the high costs of responding and recovering from disaster events.”
Mr Aldridge called on the inquiry to examine closely the performance of State Governments as the administrators of disaster recovery funding arrangements.
“Whilst funding arrangements are largely funded by the Australian Government, it is the States and Territories that administer any relief scheme that is put in place,” he said.
“In Western Australia we are witnessing the abject failure to deliver for Seroja impacted communities in our Mid West with less than ten per cent of funds hitting the ground almost two years on from the event.
“The inquiry should also examine concerns relating to equity and fairness as we witness significant variability in relief packages even within the same jurisdiction.
“We often hear that relief funding is not and should not be designed to replace losses that are insurable, however it appears governments are quick to dispense with that defence in differing circumstances.”
Member for North West Central Merome Beard invited the Premier and Minister for Emergency Services to visit Seroja impacted communities whilst in the Mid West this week.
“Premier McGowan and Minister Dawson are in Geraldton this week for Community Cabinet and should prioritise a visit to impacted communities in the region,” Ms Beard said.
“There was no shortage of politicians wanting to visit these communities when the TV cameras were there, however almost two years on these communities feel abandoned and for many who have suffered significant losses their despair is growing.
“It is unacceptable that the State Government is sitting on almost $100 million in disaster relief for these communities and they have shown no interest in standing by them.