‘Move to higher ground’: minister pledges action on floodplains – Daily – Insurance News

Australia’s Emergency Management Minister has opened the door for a buy-back scheme to be expanded beyond northern NSW and Queensland to other parts of the country, saying moving residents from areas prone to repeated flooding “often ends up actually being more cost-effective”.

The comments were applauded by the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA), which said it was “great to hear the government taking a leadership position on houses being built on floodplains”.

“Without a change in approach of what we build and where, the risk profile of communities exposed to flood won’t change,” ICA said.

The NSW and Federal government’s recently announced $800 million buy back of 2000 flood-destroyed homes could be applied elsewhere, Minister for Emergency Management and Agriculture Murray Watt says.

“We all know there are parts of the country that we’ve seen repeat flooding in recent years. In some cases, I think those home buybacks are the right approach to take,” Mr Watt said during an ABC radio interview.

“I can certainly think of other areas of the country where these kinds of approaches might be needed.

“It often ends up actually being more cost-effective – let alone avoiding the emotional heartbreak – if we can move some of these people to higher ground.” Mr Watt added that ministers needed to “sit down and work that through with some of the state governments before we can commit more funding”.

Floods have devastated central west NSW this week and severe storms struck SA, on top of recent floods in Victoria.

Evacuation centres are open in Forbes, Eugowra and Moama. Thousands of homes in SA are without power and claims have been lodged for damage caused by falling trees, lightning strikes, and leaking roofs as a result of heavy rainfall.

Minister Watt, who has been visiting affected areas, said it was likely recent flooding would cause billions of dollars in damage and disaster payments, road and infrastructure repairs.

“The bill is really racking up,” he said, noting some communities were facing their fifth or more flood this year.

“This isn’t over yet. There’s probably a lot more bad weather yet to come so it’s going to be a very expensive damage bill.

“We’ve got water coming down the Murray River … so even if we weren’t to get any more rain, we’re going to be looking at even more damage from the existing floodwaters.

“We now face more intense and more frequent natural disasters as a country due to climate change.”

IAG said today it was making use of virtual assessing, with its customers taking photos and videos of damage to their home while speaking with property assessors. Aerial imagery was also being used to assess external damage to properties to begin the assessment process, and prioritise properties with critical damage.

IAG has received 2145 claims due to severe weather since November 12, of which 1296 were in SA, 439 in Victoria and 410 in NSW.

“There are many tough days to come for these communities but we are here to help our customers impacted,” IAG Executive GM Direct Claims Luke Gallagher said.

The Bureau of Meteorology said today major flooding continues along a number of rivers in Victoria and NSW, especially central west NSW where major flooding is occurring at Forbes.

The Lachlan River is expected to rise as high as 10.8m, and remain high due to large releases from Wyangala Dam, with levels expected to remain above the 10.55m major flood level during the weekend.

Major flooding is occurring at Condobolin, Nanami, Euabalong, Warren, Hay, Barham, Boundary Bend, Bourke, Brewarrina, Hillston, Jemalong, Mungindi, Walgett and Wee Waa, and at numerous locations along the Murray River on the Victoria/NSW border.

“Showers and thunderstorms will move through much of south-east Australia on Saturday and Sunday with most of the rain expected to fall over Victoria and Tasmania,” the Bureau said. On Monday, widespread showers and possible hail and thunder are forecast for southern SA, Victoria, Tasmania and south-east NSW.

Specialist flood rescue operators from Singapore touched down in Sydney this morning to assist with the ongoing flood emergency across NSW which NSW Minister for Emergency Services Steph Cooke said would provide relief as SES workers “gear up to respond to flooding well into next year.”

The latest budget included a Disaster Mitigation Fund that from mid 2023 will finance flood levees, drainage improvements, bushfire evacuation centres and more.

Mr Watt said the government was “taking these issues seriously and is prepared to put serious money on the table,” and stronger laws preventing construction in disaster-prone areas, or regulations to make homes more resilient to natural disasters, were needed.

“All of us can see past development decisions that … we all now shake our heads about.

“We’ve got all these legacy decisions … approving development in flood plains, and that’s where mitigation and buybacks can play a role. What we need to do at a minimum is stop approving developments in areas that we know are going to flood.”

Discussions with emergency ministers around Australia had revealed “a real appetite to get moving on this,” Mr Watt said.

“It’s something that’s been in the too-hard basket for too long, and we’re all literally paying the price of that now.”



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