NSW government commits $200m to flood package to improve emergency responses

Home Politics NSW government commits $200m to flood package to improve emergency responses
NSW government commits $200m to flood package to improve emergency responses

The NSW government will spend almost $200 million to implement flood inquiry recommendations and buy dozens more rescue boats to avoid a repeat of this year’s deadly Northern Rivers floods.

Today Premier Dominic Perrottet will announce a wide-ranging package of life-saving equipment for the state’s emergency agencies who were “unprepared” for the flooding crisis, according to the independent inquiry.

The package includes 60 inflatable rescue boats, 16 high-clearance vehicles and money to train an additional 2,350 people in flood rescue from agencies including the State Emergency Service, Fire and Rescue and Surf Life Saving.

Over $16 million will will go towards better evacuation centre management and over $11 million will help train members of the public who may become “spontaneous” volunteers in a disaster.

On top of this, $1.9 million will enhance the state’s climate research capabilities to ensure the government has access to leading weather modelling and $1.8 million will streamline Service NSW’s financial grant delivery.

Mr Perrottet said the state’s emergency services needed to be better equipped for future weather disasters.

“Events of this year alone show that the conditions we are facing and the magnitude of the natural disasters need this level of support to ensure our frontline agencies are well-placed to continue delivering for the community,” Mr Perrottet said.

The 2022 flood disaster began in February and destroyed communities from the Northern Rivers region down to the Illawarra and west to Broken Hill.  Nine people lost their lives.

A woman with a pram walking through flood waters.
The money will go towards better disaster-preparedness.(AAP: Jason O’Brien)

The independent flood inquiry, chaired by former police commissioner Mick Fuller and former chief scientist Mary O’Kane, said in July the government needed to overhaul NSW’s disaster readiness.

The inquiry identified serious capability gaps in the emergency agencies and concluded if it weren’t for community-led flood rescues, there would have been a much higher loss of life.

Over $2 million of the government’s financial package will also go to setting up the NSW Reconstruction Authority to replace the now-dismantled Resilience NSW, which the inquiry found failed in its functions.

The Reconstruction Authority is designed to cut thorough red tape and get “money out the door quicker”.

The Bureau of Meteorology’s long-range forecast for summer predicts a wetter-than-average season and warns any significant rainfall along the east coast has the potential to lead to widespread flooding.

Last month record-breaking floods hit the Central West of the state and wiped out the town of Eugowra, killing two people.

The NSW government says it will action more recommendations from the inquiry next year.

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