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Commonwealth boosts disaster recovery support

The Federal Government is continuing its commitment to support communities across the country to recover from natural disasters.

Following the devastating impact of Tropical Cyclone Debbie, the Federal Government has agreed to reimburse eligible councils for use of their own plant and equipment when rebuilding damaged public assets such as roads, including graders, bulldozers, and excavators. This will ensure communities can rebuild as quickly as possible.

Costs associated with use of council staff for reconstruction works will also continue to be reimbursed by the Federal Government.

This will give councils peace of mind that they can commence reconstruction, confident that these costs will be eligible for reimbursement under the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA).

The Federal Government approved similar arrangements following the devastating impacts of Cyclone Yasi and Queensland’s 2010-11 floods.

The additional financial support will be available to all states and territories, subject to them accepting the Government’s offer, for all eligible disasters that have occurred between 2013-14 and 2017-18 financial years.

The announcement follows extensive consultation with Queensland Federal Coalition colleagues who have been listening to the concerns of their local councils and communities.

Importantly, this financial assistance is in addition to a range of costs already able to be claimed by councils for use of their own plant and equipment, including fuel, oil, additional maintenance costs, and operational costs of additional plant and equipment required for specialist activities.

As Australian taxpayers would expect, this additional financial support will be subject to audit and oversight conditions that will ensure taxpayer funds are not redirected and misused to sponsor ordinary operations of local governments.

States will be required to implement assurance arrangements to ensure that the use of local government-owned plant and equipment for eligible reconstruction works delivers greater value for money than the use of contracted plant and equipment, and using council labour will be better value than utilising external contractors.

The Federal Government is committed to working with the states and territories to ensure disaster affected communities receive the assistance they need to recover from natural disasters

This arrangement is temporary; it is not a change in policy. The Federal Government has been working with states and territories to develop an upfront recovery funding model as part of broader disaster funding reforms recommended by the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into Natural Disaster Funding Arrangements.

The proposed new model will provide states with more autonomy to rebuild in the most effective way including improving the resilience of infrastructure for the long term, while also ensuring better budget certainty through the upfront estimate of costs.

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