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Industry to have say on new resilience taskforce

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The Turnbull Government has pledged to consult the insurance industry about its new National Resilience Taskforce, aimed at reducing the impact of natural disasters.

The Government says natural disasters have cost the economy on average more than $18 billion a year for the past 10 years, and the taskforce’s first priority will be to develop a five-year national disaster mitigation framework. 

“The framework will be developed in consultation with the states and territories and the private sector, including insurance and finance, and will seek to limit risks, provide prevention strategies and improve decision-making,” Minister for Law Enforcement and Cyber Security Angus Taylor said.

“It will also establish a national disaster risk information capability to equip decision-makers and Australians with the knowledge they need to prepare for natural disasters.”

Mr Taylor says the Government will “continue to provide more than $26 million per year” for natural disaster resilience.

However, the Productivity Commission’s report on natural disaster funding arrangements included a recommendation to increase mitigation spending to $200 million a year, which the Government has so far ignored.

The taskforce will be led by Mark Crosweller, former director-general of Emergency Management Australia, and have about 20 staff.

The Australian Business Roundtable for Disaster Resilience & Safer Communities, whose members include the CEOs of IAG and Munich Re, has welcomed the taskforce.

IAG MD and CEO Peter Harmer says the roundtable has previously recommended all levels of government work with it to design a framework to assess the most effective resilience projects and locations.

“The roundtable’s research highlighted the importance of… government working with the private and non-profit sectors to co-ordinate mitigation initiatives, funding and strategies to reduce the impacts of natural disasters on communities across the nation,” he said.

“[Last month] demonstrated the vulnerability of Australia to natural disasters, with a cyclone in Darwin, storms and flooding around Hinchinbrook in north Queensland and bushfires in Tathra in NSW and southwestern Victoria near Warrnambool.

“We congratulate the Commonwealth Government for establishing the taskforce, which is a very significant step in ensuring we have the best framework in place to help reduce the devastating impacts of natural disasters on communities.”