Missed opportunity to prepare, respond and recover from disasters

The McGowan Labor Government has blocked the formation of a Select Committee to report on and improve WA’s disaster resiliency.

Shadow Minister for Emergency Services Martin Aldridge MLC said the Labor Government’s stance was deeply disappointing.

“The increasing prevalence of natural disasters in WA poses great risks for communities, infrastructure, the economy and the environment,” Mr Aldridge said.

“By rejecting the formation of the Select Committee, the Labor Government has missed a valuable opportunity to learn from past recovery efforts and successful models implemented elsewhere in Australia.

“With the Bureau of Meteorology, CSIRO and the Department of Defence in agreement that the frequency and intensity of natural disasters will only increase, it’s shameful the Labor Government has their head in the sand when it comes to protecting WA communities.”

Mr Aldridge said WA has recently endured numerous extreme natural disasters burdening communities, small businesses, local governments, and emergency services alike.

“WA is no stranger to natural disasters, with the State facing numerous bushfires, floods and storms in recent years, including the Wooroloo Bushfire and Cyclone Seroja in 2021, multiple Category-3 bushfire events in February 2022, and the recent Kimberley floods.

“These incidents have inflicted immense devastation upon families and communities and have stretched the resources of the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) and other agencies.

“While WA has some systems in place to provide an emergency response and limited recovery, there is significant room to improve the way we prepare, prevent, respond and recover from disasters.”

Mr Aldridge pointed to the Queensland Reconstruction Authority (QRA) as an alternative recovery model WA could learn from.

“The QRA was established in February 2011 following the devastating events of Cyclone Yasi, and is a dedicated, permanent agency for disaster recovery, resilience and mitigation policy,” Mr Aldridge said.

“Despite having just 90 staff, the QRA oversaw delivery of a disaster recovery and reconstruction program worth over $5 billion in 2021-22 alone, and the model has proven so successful it was recently adopted by New South Wales last year.”

Mr Aldridge said the rejection of the Select Committee was a missed chance to advance WA’s disaster management capabilities.

“I call on the Labor Government to reconsider its position and demonstrate a genuine commitment to the safety and well-being of the communities and people it serves,” he said