Minister for Emergency Management Murray Watt has confirmed the Albanese government will push for changes to the emergency response fund to make it a permanent cash reserve for disaster mitigation.
Visiting the flood-ravaged town of Lismore on Friday, Watt said that thousands of people were still without long-term accommodation as a result of the flooding across the NSW Northern Rivers in February and March.
The emergency management minister said that changes to the emergency response fund were a “high priority”, following an election campaign promise to invest $200 million per year on disaster readiness.
“There are new challenges now, not just with people not living in their homes and waiting for accommodation,” he told ABC RN Breakfast.
“They are really, really cold sitting in caravans and sitting in temporary accommodation as they wait for repairs to happen.
“There are still many people who are displaced from their homes, and frankly, it’s gonna take a while because I think all of us know that there’s a massive shortage of tradies and supplies for building right around the country.”
Watt said he had spoken to some state, territory and local governments about the possibility of matched funding for Labor’s Disaster Ready Fund.
“If we can do that [matched funding], that actually takes us to around $400 million a year, and if you’re talking about that kind of money, you can really start making a dent in the backlog of mitigation projects that we know exists,” he said.