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Merged agencies to hone federal disaster focus

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The Federal Government plans to merge the National Recovery and Resilience Agency (NRRA) and Emergency Management Australia (EMA) to strengthen the focus on natural disasters.

Emergency Management Minister Murray Watt says it’s proposed the two agencies would form a new organisation called the National Emergency Management, Resilience and Recovery Agency, effective September 1.

“Combining all these disaster related functions into one agency under the Home Affairs Portfolio is a significant step forward and strengthens Australia’s ability to prepare for, manage and recover from an increasing number and severity of disasters,” Mr Watt said.

“Due to the effects of climate change, Australia will face more major natural disasters in the future, and we have to prepare and adapt now to ensure that as a nation we’re in the best position to deal with that inevitability.”

The Government says natural disasters currently cost the economy $38 billion per year on average, and human-made hazards have comparable costs. The estimated cost of natural disasters is expected to reach at least $73 billion by 2060 under a low emissions scenario, and $94 billion under a high emissions trajectory.

Mr Watt says as a result of the changes, NRRA Coordinator-General Shane Stone will take leave from today and cease employment with the organisation on August 31.

Department of Home Affairs COO Justine Saunders will serve as Acting Coordinator-General until the new agency is established.

The NRRA was announced by the previous Morrison Government last May, bringing together several existing agencies, in response to the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements.