Councils lack disaster support

STATE local authorities say they are trying to fix their disaster management systems before the next wet season, but are not getting enough government support.

This month’s Flood Inquiry report, presented to Premier Anna Bligh on August 1, prompted spending of an extra $76 million in five years to implement the inquiry recommendations.

However, Local Government Association of Queensland president Paul Bell said much of this was for State Government responsibilities.

He was disappointed the Government had rejected more help for councils to do their part to improve flood preparedness.

Cr Bell said councils appreciated the Federal and State governments’ funding support, to help them recover and rebuild from last summer’s floods and cyclones.

But he said councils also needed help for the future.

“Many council areas most vulnerable to a repeat of last summer’s devastating deluge were those with the least financial capacity to pay the costs of implementing the measures that the floods inquiry urged,” he said.

“These councils form the frontline between disasters and their communities, yet the Government’s decision risks leaving them without the resources to put up a proper fight.

“That stands in stark contrast to the Victorian Government’s $38 million partnership support package to councils in that state to help them in their disaster management obligations following the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires.

“Our request was for a modest $12.5 million assistance for recurrent spending and $5 million for capital spending, based on a formula that took into account both the risk faced by individual councils and their capacity to pay.”

Cr Bell said that despite the disappointment at government funding levels, “councils are determined to work in partnership with emergency services and other government agencies to ensure communities grow more resilient to Mother Nature’s fury”.

Gympie Times

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