Some of Australia’s largest insurers and bankers have published a white paper recommending a string of recommendations to more effectively manage natural disasters.
The authoritative paper compiled by a roundtable of IAG, Munich Re, Westpac, Optus, Investa, and the Australian Red Cross states its “sustainable and comprehensive” approach could ultimately save lives, reduce damage to property and vital national infrastructure, and free taxpayer money to spend on essential public services.
The proposals champion safer and more resilient communities, warning that the cost of natural disasters in Australia will rise from $6.3billion to $23bn a year by 2050.
The white paper states that each year the Australian Government spends circa $560million on post-disaster relief and recovery compared to an estimated $50m on pre-disaster resilience.
It highlights that a program of resilience expenditure of around $250m a year to 2050 would ultimately generate budget savings of more than $12bn and Australian Government expenditure on disaster response could reduce by more than 50 per cent.
The white paper recognises there had been a lot of “positive resilience and disaster management activity already underway” but noted there was an opportunity for the various agencies, involved such as the police, government departments and agencies, to be better aligned and co-ordinated.
Improve co-ordination of pre-disaster resilience by appointing a National Resilience Advisor and establishing a Business and Community Advisory Group: The advisor would co-ordinate and prioritise activity across all levels of government. The Advisor would be supported by the creation of a Business and Community Advisory Group to leverage knowledge and expertise.
Commit to long-term annual consolidated funding for pre-disaster resilience: The fund would consolidate current mitigation spend and centralise new spending to deliver long-term taxpayer savings. A $250m fund could deliver $12bn savings over time.
Identify and prioritise pre-disaster investment activities that deliver a positive net impact on future budget outlays: All mitigation to be prioritised based on the national interest and economic benefit as determined by the cost benefit ratio achieved and future budget impact.
A spokesman for the roundtable said: “Roundtable members look forward to working constructively with governments in the national interest to prioritise public policy and funding to improve Australia’s resilience against future natural disasters and have committed their own organisations to deliver tangible outcomes that support this vital work.”
The white paper can be viewed here.