Locals locked out of flood clean-up funding

Changes should be made to disaster recovery funding arrangements to prevent flood-impacted locals missing out on support in times of localised natural disaster such as the 2023 Boxing Day floods.

That’s the view of The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien who took the matter to State Parliament this week, asking the Minister for Emergency Services to advocate for changes to the disaster funding arrangements that operate between state and federal governments.

“The current funding arrangements have a threshold which requires a certain per centage of a region to be directly affected by the natural disaster before there will be clean-up assistance from the state and federal governments,” Mr O’Brien said.

“Such clean up grants were widely available after the big storms of June 2021.

“Following last year’s Boxing Day flood event I was contacted by several impacted farmers and locals asking whether there would be any assistance from the state government for clean-up.

“The early morning Boxing Day storm and rain event caused rapid flooding in places like Welshpool and Woodside that led to significant localised damage – fences and crops destroyed, buildings and homes inundated, trees and other debris left across paddocks and creeks and land eroded.

Mr O’Brien highlighted that land and homeowners are impacted exactly the same in a natural disaster, whether there are 300 of them or 10 of them.

“The government will jump in and provide assistance when there is a big event, but when there is a very localised event with exactly the same impacts on individuals no help is available. I think it’s a flawed argument.

“All property owners should seek to prepare for the worst with their own resources and insurance in the first instance, but there are some events that can’t be managed or insured against.

“While I appreciate that governments have these thresholds for generally good reasons, I am calling for more flexibility in these arrangements.”

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