Estimates Committee B (Cox)
Thursday 26 June 2008
State Emergency Management Services
Mr FINCH - Table 10.2 note 2 notes that the completion of the Tasmanian disaster mitigation program is a factor in the decrease in the State Emergency Management Services' allocation for next year.  That is a program that I do not know much about so I am wondering, Minister, if you would be able to elaborate on that?

Mr COX - When this was all put together there was no Commonwealth funding at that stage.  That was last year and the Commonwealth had not committed any funding, so as a result the State did not pursue it.  I have to take some advice on this but I suspect that there will be a request to the Treasurer to match it or be part of it.  The reason it did not appear was that at that stage there was no Federal funding but the Commonwealth has now made money available.

Mr FINCH - So your expectation is that they will now -

Mr COX - They have put up money so now there is an expectation that the State will have to match or put up part as well.

Mr FINCH - So that will come from you, Minister?

Mr COX - From Treasury.

Mr FINCH - But will you put the request forward for that?

Mr COX - I won't but I suspect the Treasurer is well aware of it.

Mr FINCH - I would like some understanding of what this Tasmanian disaster mitigation program is about and what it is intended to do.

Mr COX - In three years, 55 Tasmanian projects received funding under these programs.  The funding was to Northern Midlands Council for construction of that Longford flood levee; Glenorchy City Council for fire threat reduction activities in Wellington Park; West Coast Council for flood mitigation and levee enhancements near Strahan; George Town Council for flood mitigation work on Pipers River Road - and on it goes.

Mr FINCH - From those programs and that sort of work will others be activated with this extra funding?

Mr COX - Yes.

Mr FINCH - Have we had submissions from councils or will you alert councils to the fact that more money is now available?

Mr COX - Yes and yes.

Mr FINCH - How does it work?

Mr JOHNSTON - The answer is there is no more money available just yet.  Councils are being alerted by the State Emergency Service who administers these funds that there are opportunities to submit.  They will get those proposals and then they will be evaluated.  Once we know what the evaluation is and whether the projects are worth doing or not we will then put a proposal back to the Government about the matching funding.   That is the process that we take.

Mr FINCH - What is the sort of time line for some expectation that money will be available and these projects can be activated?

Mr COX - The ones I read out to you were done over three years and there were 55 projects done in those three years.

Mr JOHNSTON - There are still ongoing projects and there is $700 000 that we still have to push out the door in relation to those ongoing projects.  It is not as though it is finished.

Mr FINCH - Okay.  There seems to be an increase in emergency events involving floods and storms that we seem to have with climate change.  The number of SES call-outs is predicted to increase in the coming financial year.  Is this a justified perception?

Mr COX - I do not know whether there will actually be increases.  For their sake I hope there are not but we never know.  The winds in the last couple of days obviously would have brought them out again.  Mr. Finch, you want to know what they have done?

Mr FINCH - No, it is just a perception and noting this increase and that it is likely to occur and that it is on the agenda that there could be some sort of increase.  Is it just a safeguard that that situation is covered and has been taken into account?

Mr COX - Yes, they are planning for an increase.  They are working on the fact that there will be more.