The Commonwealth and Queensland governments have established a $100 million Betterment Fund to help protect communities impacted by the North and Far North Queensland monsoon trough – a move welcomed by Insurance Australia Group (IAG).
The fund, part of the $242 million recovery package jointly funded under the Commonwealth-Queensland Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA), will enable councils and state agencies to rebuild and upgrade key public infrastructure such as bridges, roads, and floodways to a more resilient standard.
Peter Harmer, IAG managing director and CEO, said the fund will help protect some of our most vulnerable communities from the impacts of natural disasters.
“These communities regularly face the devastating impacts of severe natural disasters such as cyclones and floods, which place enormous physical, financial and social strain on individuals and communities,” Harmer said. “By investing in making key infrastructure more resilient, we can help build stronger and more confident communities, which not only protects them today but makes them more resilient and better prepared into the future.”
According to a 2017 report by the Australian Business Roundtable for Disaster Resilience & Safer Communities, of which IAG is a founding member, natural disasters are forecast to cost Australia a total of $39 billion per year by 2050.
The roundtable’s 2016 report, meanwhile, found that between 2002-03 and 2010-11, more than $450 million, or about 1.6% of total public infrastructure spending, was spent each year by Australian governments to restore critical infrastructure after extreme weather events. It is also estimated that $17 billion (in net present value terms) will be needed to directly replace critical infrastructure between 2015 and 2050 due to the impact of natural disasters.
“The economic and social costs of natural disasters can be reduced through upfront investment in mitigation initiatives to better protect communities when a disaster strikes, and therefore reducing the physical, economic and social recovery costs,” Harmer said. “We congratulate the Commonwealth and Queensland governments on this initiative which is a significant step in helping to reduce the devastating impacts of natural disasters on these communities.”