Legislative Council: Tuesday, August 29, 2023


River Murray Flood Response

In reply to the Hon. F. PANGALLO ().3 May 2023).

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector): The Treasurer has advised:

1. In total, the government has committed more than $194 million of additional funding for response, relief and recovery assistance measures to support those impacted by the River Murray flood event.

These measures include:

Personal hardship assistance–one-off payments of up to $1,000 per family for those forced to leave their home by the flood event.

Rental assistance–up to $2,000 for singles and up to $5,000 for families displaced from their homes by the flood event and without insurance.

Power Shut Off–Generator Grants–up to $500 for households and up to $4,000 for businesses, who were notified of electricity disconnection or interruption due to the flood event, to purchase a generator.

Business Early Closure Grant–up to $20,000 to support businesses that were required to close early or cease trading as a result of the flood event.

Business Levee Embankments Remediation and Construction Grant–up to $50,000 provided to businesses on a 50 per cent cost share basis for the remediation or construction of levee embankments.

Business Levee Embankments Engineering Support Grant–up to $1,000 to assist businesses in funding engineering service provider's advice on the remediation or construction of levees.

Primary Producer Irrigation Infrastructure Grants–up to $25,000 to assist with relocating and re-establishing irrigation infrastructure impacted by the flood event.

Levee works–funding provided to councils for levee works to mitigate the impact of the flood event.

Sandbags–purchase of additional sandbags and other flood defence systems.

Tourism recovery support–targeted voucher program and campaign to encourage a return to tourism along the River Murray following the flood event.

Community recovery fund–local preparedness and recovery fund administered by the Community Recovery Coordinator.

Financial counselling–information, advice, and referrals on cost-of-living and financial matters for those adversely impacted by the flood event.

Mental health support–multiple programs providing professional counselling and support.

Fee Waivers for houseboat and tourism operators–waiver of annual licence fees for licence holders unable to access the River Murray.

Essential services reconnection grants–up to $5,000 per eligible household to assist with reconnecting electricity, gas, water, sceptic, or sewer services.

Clean-up and waste program–structural assessments, removal of hazardous waste and debris, kerbside collections, and waste management.

Small business recovery grant–up to $50,000 to assist small businesses meet clean-up and reinstatement costs.

Primary producer recovery grant–up to $75,000 to assist affected primary producers with essential recovery and reinstatement activities.

Emergency accommodation bookings–for those displaced from their homes by the floods without alternative accommodation arrangements.

Travel assistance–payments of $300 for those on lower income to assist with the cost of travelling longer distances.

Re-establishment grant–up to $20,000 for lower income households to assist with flood damage repairs and replacement of essential items.

Land tax, stamp duty and emergency services levy relief–land tax relief for businesses and rentals damaged by the flood, stamp duty relief for those purchasing a replacement for a flood destroyed home or vehicle, and emergency services levy relief for flood destroyed vehicles.

Small business industry support grants–up to $10,000 to support small businesses with operating costs during the flood event.

Family and business support–a free confidential triage program for primary producers that connects people with family and business mentors.

Council counter disaster operations–assistance for councils with a variety of flood mitigation, response and remediation activities.

Fire service false alarm fee waivers–waiver of fees for unwanted fire alarm activations.

Road repair package–to repair state and council roads damaged by the flood event.

Legal assistance–to help those affected by the flood with a range of legal issues including insurance, tenancies, employment, and hardship matters.

Fish clean-up–clean-up of large numbers of dead fish resulting from the flood.

A number of these measures are jointly funded by the commonwealth and the state under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.

The government is working with impacted councils to understand the damage that has been caused to the road network from the River Murray flood event. The immediate focus has been on ensuring that roads could reopen as soon as possible to restore community links and transport routes, however, consideration will be given to proposals to improve disaster resilience as longer term repairs are progressed.

2. On 5 February 2023, the government announced a $60 million road repair package for state and council-maintained roads damaged by the River Murray flood event.

While $30 million of this package will be funded from the Department for Infrastructure and Transport's (DIT) annual capital program, there is $30 million of new additional funding being made available to support road repairs.

Based on preliminary damage assessments, $40 million from the road repair package has been allocated for state-maintained roads and $20 million has been allocated for council-maintained roads, however it will be some time before the final funding shares are determined.

3. There are a range of matters to be taken into account when considering betterment proposals to improve disaster resilience when repairing flood damaged roads. This includes the potential social and economic impacts, as well as the likelihood of future disaster events relative to the investment that would be required to improve disaster resilience.

The government is working with impacted councils to identify and explore betterment options as part of the recovery process from the River Murray flood event.

4. DIT has an annual program budget which it allocates to address priority road repair needs. These funds are prioritised towards roads that most urgently require repair and it is appropriate that some of these funds are allocated towards roads that have been significantly damaged due to the River Murray flood event.

As part of the government's $194 million additional relief funding, included is $30 million of new funding allocated for road repairs on top of the $30 million funded through DIT's existing annual program allocation.