New disaster agency to support post-fire, flood recovery

A new disaster agency will be established by the Morrison government. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos
A new disaster agency will be established by the Morrison government. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos

A new national agency to respond in the aftermath of major natural disasters and help shield Australia from future crises will be set up by the Morrison government.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will announce the establishment of the National Recovery and Resilience Agency on Wednesday, providing an immediate injection of $600 million in funds towards projects designed to help protect disaster-prone communities.

The government agreed to establish an agency in November, in response to recommendations from the royal commission sparked by the Black Summer bushfires.

State and territory emergency services will remain responsible for responding to disasters as they unfold, with the new agency to step in and help once the recovery starts.

"The agency will help communities rebuild and recover from natural disasters, helping many Australians in their greatest time of need, while strengthening our defences against future major disasters," Mr Morrison said.

"In the past two years Australians have faced floods, bushfires, cyclones, drought and now the COVID-19 pandemic, and I'm determined to keep Australians safe and support the recovery of communities and regions right across Australia."

The agency, which will be helmed by co-ordinator-general Shane Stone, will be tasked with supporting flood ravaged communities in NSW and Queensland, and towns struck by recent cyclones in WA.

Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos

Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos

It will absorb the National Bushfire Recovery Agency, which was formed after the horror 2019-20 fire season, and manage the former National Drought and North Queensland Flood Response and Recovery Agency.

As part of efforts to mitigate the severity of future disasters, the government said it would establish a dedicated service to help it better "anticipate, manage and adapt" to a changing climate.

The so-called Australian Climate Service will draw on the expertise of the nation's "best and brightest" scientists to inform the new agency's work.

"We do face more extreme weather events due to changing climate and this is about being prepared, and being able to take steps to make our communities more resilient," Environment Minister Sussan Ley said.

"By bringing together critical data from the nation's key climate research institutions, the Australian Climate Service will not only help save lives and money through a more informed emergency response, it will inform long-term planning for infrastructure, housing and basic services like power, telecommunications, and water."

Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud said $4.5 million would be set aside to run disaster training scenarios, helping regional communities to prepare for potential disasters.

Emergency Management Australia's National Situation Room will also be upgraded, Mr Littleproud said.

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This story New disaster agency to support post-fire, flood recovery first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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