Today the Federal Government released its election year budget. Whilst most folk are talking deficits, loss of entitlements and so forth I’ll focus on disasters of a different sort.
Though the Federal Government does do a lot of counter-disaster work through its agencies (such as the Attorney General’s Department, Bureau of Meteorology, Department of Defence and Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries) they don’t appear to have any new expenditure items this year, or significant cuts. This leaves the money provided to the states and territories for mitigation and recovery (contained in Budget Paper 3).
There’s one big ticket item in the Federal budget – the National Insurance Affordability Initiative. Though previously announced the budget confirms $100 million over two years to improve flood mitigation.
This will support a National Partnership on the implementation of the National Insurance Affordability Initiative which will provide funds to the states for flood mitigation projects and to establish a National Insurance Affordability Council. It’s unclear where the Commonwealth’s spend on the establishment of the NIAC will come from. However part of this NP will likely involve the States and Territories having to provide flood information to the Commonwealth’s new National Flood Information Portal and, to an extent, standardise flood mapping and modelling approaches across the country. This initiative will probably be the carrot for that.
Recovery expenditure in the current and forward years relates to the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements, which the budget papers outline on both a cash and accrual basis (I will report the cash figures). Strangely the Budget doesn’t make provision for NDRRA payments for any future disasters (which it used to – at a thoroughly inadequate $80 million a year) though forecasting future disasters is rather harder than forecasting economic conditions. Here’s the numbers:
It’s quite clear that there’s a fairly big mismatch between the amount the Commonwealth provides to the states for mitigation and for recovery. We shouldn’t generalise this though – both state and local governments spend quite bit on mitigation, preparedness – and there’s the amount the Commonwealth spends on its own counter disaster agencies. Will we see more money for mitigation in a future budget?