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The truth about natural disaster funding

New figures have revealed that a Productivity Commission proposal to lift the NDRRA small disaster threshold from $240,000 to $2 million would have cost Queensland councils up to $9.3 million if was introduced before the recent spate of floods and cyclones in the state.

The LGAQ will lodge a supplementary submission to the Commission’s current inquiry using data supplied by the Queensland Reconstruction Authority to illustrate the impact on councils of changing the threshold.

The $9.3 million, based on events over the period March 2009 to January 2014, is higher than the $6.3 million previously estimated by the QRA as that figure only included actual claims received to date.

However, the QRA recognises that further claims up to $9.3 million could be made for these events in accordance with current damage estimates and permitted timelines.

To highlight a couple of events that would have been excluded under the proposed change to the small disaster threshold and the potential impact on councils and their communities:

  • one localised, heavy rainfall event in northern Queensland in October 2011 that affected only one council area (Cassowary Coast Regional Council) caused damage resulting in an estimated $1.3 million of eligible expenditure. This event happened only 8 months after the same council was at the centre of the impacts of Tropical Cyclone Yasi in February 2011.
  • a tropical low in Far North Queensland 3-4 February 2012 caused an estimated $1.9 million in damage across eight remote councils, mostly Indigenous councils which have no rates base to support their revenue.

The LGAQ appeared on behalf of councils at the recent public hearings in Brisbane on 31 October, along with a number of councils who appeared the same day. Queensland local government was also well-represented at the Townsville public hearings held the previous day.

Apart from lodging a supplentary submission to the commission, the LGAQ is continuing to push the natural disaster funding case with the Federal and State governments.

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