Disaster response and emergency agencies will merge to form a new body, in a recommendation the Federal Government says will strengthen the country's ability to respond to increasingly severe natural disasters, like the flood that devastated Lismore.
Minister for Emergency Management, Murray Watt, has announced the Government's intention to recommend to the Governor-General the creation of a single emergency management, resilience and recovery agency.
From today, July 1, the National Resilience and Recovery Agency will be relocated to sit within the Home Affairs Portfolio, under machinery of government changes already announced by the Prime Minister.
This means the situational awareness, emergency preparedness, crisis management and response functions of Emergency Management Australia, which already sits in the Department of Home Affairs, will be joined in the Portfolio by the recovery and resilience functions of the National Recovery and Resilience Agency (NRRA).
Further, Minister Watt will recommend to the Governor-General that, from September 1, the NRRA and EMA should merge to form a new organisation, called the National Emergency Management, Resilience and Recovery Agency (NEMRRA), which will combine the efforts of both agencies.
"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," Minister 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 the that inevitability."
Natural disasters currently cost the Australian economy $38 billion per year on average, and human-made hazards have comparable whole of economy costs, with the estimated cost of natural disasters in Australia to reach at least $73 billion per year by 2060 under a low emissions scenario, and $94 billion under a high emissions trajectory.
"I am confident that these structural changes will assist in delivering the Albanese Government's commitment to ensure that Australia is better prepared for the natural disasters we know will come."
One consequence of these recommended changes is that, from September 1, the Office of the Coordinator-General of the NRRA will cease to exist.
The Coordinator-General, Shane Stone AC QC will take leave from today, before ceasing his employment with the NRRA on August 31.
"I would like to thank Mr Stone for his service, in establishing and leading the NRRA since its inception," Mr Watt said.
The Chief Operating Officer for the Department of Home Affairs, Ms Justine Saunders APM, will serve as the Acting Coordinator-General of the NRRA until the establishment of the proposed new agency.
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