Thursday 18 August 2016
Hansard of the Legislative Council
Flood Recovery Funding
Mr FINCH question to LEADER of the GOVERNMENT in the LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL, Dr GOODWIN
In relation to our process for flood mitigation, there is a group set up in Henty House, where we have our offices. I have seen people coming and going there and I am curious about:
(1) How is the work that needs to be done going to be financed? I know there is a $10 000 opportunity initially to farmers, but there is a lot of damage, and we are going to need much more than that to get them back to where they were.
(2) Do we have state fund for this type of occurrence?
(3) Do we find out how much we need and then make application to the federal government?
(4) How then does the grant or support process work?
Mr President, I thank the honourable member for Rosevears for his question.
The Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements - NDRRA - provide a financial safety net for jurisdictions impacted by significant natural disasters. Under the NDRRA, a state is able to seek reimbursement from the Australian Government for eligible expenditure incurred in relation to the response to, and recovery from, a natural disaster, subject to defined financial thresholds being exceeded in any one financial year.
There are four thresholds that generally guide reimbursement:
• 50 per cent reimbursement for all Category A (support to individuals) costs incurred once $240 000 of expenditure is passed;
• 50 per cent reimbursement for all Category B (infrastructure repair and recovery) costs incurred once $11.6 million of expenditure is passed;
• 75 per cent reimbursement for all Category B (infrastructure repair and recovery) costs once $20.3 million of expenditure is passed; and
• 50 per cent of all Category C (clean‑up grants to primary producers and small businesses) and D costs (other agreed programs) where joint agreement is reached between the Premier and Prime Minister.
The process usually requires the owner of the infrastructure to fund its repair and replacement in the first instance through existing funding arrangements. This could include the use of capital reserves or reallocation of non-committed funds. The state Government then collates all expenditure information across state agencies and local government and engages the Tasmanian Audit Office to perform an audit of the expenditure to confirm that it is eligible for reimbursement under the NDRRA. Once satisfied, the Tasmanian Audit Office issues its audit option and the state Government then submits a claim for reimbursement from the Australian Government.
The state Government is continuing to work with flood-impacted communities to identify their needs. This may include increasing the amount available to some primary producers to $25 000 and a remediation program to address issues in the impacted river systems.
The state has provided approximately $370 000 in emergency assistance grants to people directly impacted by the floods, including the recent flood event in Huonville, to assist with immediate needs such as buying clothing, food and water, transport, shelter and personal items. In addition, $250 000 in recovery and Restoration Grants has been provided to assist vulnerable people with temporary living expenses, the purchase or repair of essential household items, and to support property repair and restoration.
Infrastructure damage across state and local government and other government entities is currently estimated to be $80 million. This may increase as further assessments are undertaken. Of this $80 million, approximately $20 million to $25 million is the cost to 19 local government areas. Consistent with the NDRRA the state will be meeting up to 75 per cent of the costs to local government.
In relation to primary producers, who have access to the $10 000 clean up grants under the NDRRA, the condition of impacted properties has made the recovery task challenging. Most properties remain waterlogged. The required work has not been undertaken, as it would likely cause further damage. The assistance will be available until the state is certain the need for it remains. The current estimate of the total cost of the $10 000 clean-up grants will be up to $6 million.