Productivity Commission to investigate disaster funding

THE Federal Government plans to establish a Productivity Commission Inquiry next year into national disaster funding arrangements.

The Commonwealth has provided more than $13 billion in support to states and individuals as a result of natural disasters since 2009.

Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey said at the weekend he was writing to the Productivity Commission and requesting it examine the full scope of national expenditure on disasters and the effectiveness of current mitigation support arrangements.

The Commission will also be tasked with exploring the best ways to reduce the impact of natural disasters on communities and how they recover in a sustainable way.

"The Coalition Government will consult with states and territories on the terms of reference for the review," he said.

"Emergency Services Ministers across the country have already expressed their support for an inquiry into disaster expenditure.

"The government acknowledges most existing disaster funding models are weighted towards response and recovery, with a focus on immediate humanitarian and economic relief and restoration of infrastructure to its previous standard instead of longer-term resilience.

Mr Hockey said estimates revealed the total economic cost of natural disasters in 2012 was more than $6 billion.

"In the last five years natural disasters around the country have claimed more than 200 lives and devastated hundreds of thousands of Australians."

The announcement comes on the back of a survey which found the majority of Queenslanders were not fully prepared for natural disasters despite years of severe state-wide flooding and cyclones.

The Queensland Community Preparedness Survey commissioned by the Office of the Inspector-General Emergency Management revealed Queenslanders believed they knew local natural disaster risks and were adequately prepared, but in many cases they were not.

Inspector-General Iain MacKenzie said that while there had been some clear improvement in a number of areas of preparedness there was still a long way to go.

"This will allow us to drill down and target specific sections of the community and particular attitudes that need to change if we are going to be the best prepared and most resilient state in Australia," he said.

"While we cannot prevent floods and cyclones, we can do something about helping Queenslanders to minimise the threat to their personal safety and property."