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Annual Report 2007-08 Output 3.2

Natural disaster relief and mitigation

Summary

The Department administers Australian Government financial assistance for the States and Territories in relation to various natural disaster programs and initiatives.

While protecting the community and property from natural disasters is primarily the responsibility of State and Territory Governments, the Australian Government provides support in recognition of the unpredictable nature of natural disasters such as bushfires, floods and cyclones, and the devastating impact they can have on families, businesses and communities.

This output includes four administered programs:

  • Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements
  • Natural Disaster Mitigation
  • National Aerial Firefighting, and
  • Bushfire Mitigation.

Major achievements

Natural disaster relief and recovery arrangements

The Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA) Program provides partial reimbursement to the States and Territories for natural disaster relief and recovery expenditure. The NDRRA covers a range of measures including personal hardship and distress assistance and the restoration or replacement of essential public assets.

Emergency Management Australia (EMA) provided advice and assistance to States and the Australian Government, including the Attorney-General and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, relating to various natural disasters, including the Queensland January–March monsoonal floods; the northern and central western New South Wales floods and residual issues relating to Tropical Cyclone Larry, the Eyre Peninsula bushfires of 2005, and the New South Wales Hunter and Central Coast floods of June 2007.

Payments made to States include:

  • $1 million to the Queensland Premier’s 2008 Flood Relief Appeal
  • $300,000 towards a tourism recovery package to assist the New South Wales North Coast region to recover from severe flooding in January 2008
  • $7.7 million partial NDRRA reimbursement to the New South Wales Government for expenditure relating to the June 2007 Hunter and Central Coast community recovery funds, and
  • $2 million NDRRA reimbursement to the South Australian Government for costs associated with the recovery effort following the Eyre Peninsula bushfires in January 2005.

In 2007–08 the States provided notification of 28 NDRRA eligible events.

Natural disaster mitigation

The Bushfire Mitigation Program and the Natural Disaster Mitigation Program (NDMP) are delivered through funding partnerships with all levels of government.

The Bushfire Mitigation Program funds the construction, maintenance and signage of fire trail networks and associated measures. The NDMP aims to identify and address natural disaster risk priorities. Both programs operate on a cost-sharing basis with the States and Territories and local government, with each level of government eligible to apply for funding.

The Charleville levee in south-west Queensland is an excellent example of a joint mitigation project. The project was funded through the NDMP and its predecessor, the Regional Flood Mitigation Program. The partially completed levee was supplemented with portable levees, also funded under NDMP, to prevent the inundation of the town during the February 2008 monsoonal flooding. The recent completion of the levee means that such arrangements will not be required in Charleville again. Charleville has suffered three major flood events in the past 20 years.

In June 2008, the Australian Government paid its commitment of $13 million to the Tasmanian Government for works to commence on flood protection for Launceston. Australian Government funding for the project is administered under the NDMP and this funding is matched by the Tasmanian Government and Launceston City Council. The Launceston levee works will upgrade the existing ageing levee system to a one-in-200-year flood level and address a serious flood risk.

The North Para Flood Control Dam, a major component of the $20 million Gawler River Flood Mitigation Scheme north-east of Adelaide, was completed in 2008. The scheme addresses flooding by the Gawler River, which occurs on average every 10 years; in November 2005, flooding caused at least $40 million in damages. It was part-funded under the Regional Flood Mitigation Program, which was incorporated into the NDMP on 1 July 2007.

National aerial firefighting capability

The Australian Government has committed $41.2 million over four years to June 2011 (including $10 million in 2007–08) to more efficiently and effectively address the risk of bushfire across Australia through its contribution to a national aerial firefighting fleet. Funds were provided to the National Aerial Firefighting Centre Ltd, which is responsible for the national coordination of resources and sharing of aerial firefighting equipment between jurisdictions. The Centre ensures that the type, timing and location of aircraft is managed to address immediate and seasonal fire risk across Australia.

Although bushfire fighting is a State and Territory responsibility, Australian Government funding aims to support the jurisdictions and protect Australian communities through a cooperative national approach to the sharing of specialised aerial equipment. The funding covers up to half the annual cost of leasing and positioning aircraft; jurisdictions meet the remaining leasing and operating costs.

The 2007–08 national fleet comprised a range of medium and heavy firefighting aircraft, including four high-capacity aircranes in south-eastern Australia.

Outlook

Taking into account the possible increase in severity and frequency of natural disasters associated with climate change, the Australian Government will continue to contribute to activities that will mitigate future events through the NDMP and the Bushfire Mitigation Program. The Australian Government also stands ready to assist States and Territories with relief and recovery under the NDRRA for the unpredictable disaster events which will inevitably occur in the next disaster season. The Government also remains committed to the four-year, $41.2 million aerial firefighting assistance announced in May 2007.

EMA will hold a number of major stakeholder meetings throughout 2008–09 to ensure each of its programs is continuously improving and achieving the Australian Government’s policy objectives in natural disaster mitigation, relief and recovery. As partners in our programs, the States and Territories will be key contributors to these processes.

Performance indicators
Quantitative and qualitative

Output 3.2

Natural disaster relief and mitigation
Activity Performance indicator Result
Communities are assisted in recovering from the cost and social impact of natural disasters

 

Quality

 

Information on natural disaster events and risks is collected systematically for Australian communities

 

Achieved

 

Other agencies and governments are assisted to evaluate and improve bushfire and natural disaster management

 

Achieved

 

Grants and loans are administered which assist communities to mitigate and recover from disasters

 

Achieved

 

 

Performance information for Output 3.2—administered items
Administered item Performance indicator Result
Bushfire Mitigation—fire trail networks are enhanced

 

Quality

 

Payments are made in line with project progress

 

Substantially achieved

Performance result due to late submissions for the 2007–08 funding round.

 

Budget price: $4.517 million

 

Actual price: $2.071 million

 

National Aerial Firefighting—the National Aerial Firefighting Centre is able to acquire and deploy firefighting aircraft around Australia

 

Quality Payments are made in line with the Australian Government’s obligations

 

Achieved

 

Budget price: $4.000 million

 

Actual price: $4.000 million

 

Natural Disaster Mitigation—communities are assisted to identify and treat natural disaster risks

 

Quality

 

Priority is given to proposals for research on or treatment of regions with a risk of natural disaster

 

Achieved

 

Payments are made in line with project progress

 

Achieved

 

Budget price: $18.784 million

 

Actual price: $18.784 million

 

Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements—the cost of disaster relief and recovery to State and Territory governments is reduced

 

Quality

 

Funding is available in respect of all major rapid onset natural disasters

 

Achieved

 

State and Territory Governments are reimbursed for eligible expenses within 21 days of submitting a claim

 

Substantially achieved

A special request by one State required extended discussion. This substantial payment affected the overall performance.

 

Budget price: $75.982 million

 

Actual price: $5.747 million

 

Queensland Flood Relief Appeal—government assistance

 

Quality Donation paid promptly to facilitate distribution of financial assistance

 

Achieved

 

Budget price: $0.500 million

 

Actual price: $0.500 million

 

Wallsend Flood Early Warning System

 

Quality Implemented as per commitment

 

Achieved

 

Budget price: $0.090 million

 

Actual price: $0.090 million