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Nation faces summer of natural disasters – The Northern Daily Leader

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Flooding, cyclones and even a Japanese encephalitis outbreak are among the risks facing Australians this summer as a leading climate body warns of a rise in “unnatural disasters”.
A new report says the nation’s disaster planning is not fit for purpose, adding repeated weather events in recent times have left communities with minimal time to recover.
The Climate Council and Emergency Leaders for Climate Action are calling for a big boost in resilience funding, an end to fossil fuel subsidies and a national disaster strategy.
They say climate change has rendered existing disaster planning “no longer fit for purpose” to keep Australians safe.
The report on Australia’s “new era of unnatural disasters” outlines the extent to which taxpayers are footing the bill for damage caused by floods, bushfires and other disasters while oil companies “rake in piles of cash”.
“There is nothing natural about these disasters … they are being unleashed on Australians by decades of reliance on fossil fuels,” Climate Councillor Lesley Hughes said.
“We are one of the largest exporters of fossil fuels in the world.
“Those fossil fuel industries are subsidised to nearly $12 billion … by the Australian taxpayer.
“Many of those big companies are raking in enormous profits and are paying little to no income tax in Australia.”
The council estimates disasters have cost every Australian household an average $1532 this year.
A fairer use of taxpayer money would be taxing the companies and redirecting the funds to communities impacted by natural disasters, Professor Hughes said.
Former NSW Fire and Rescue commissioner Greg Mullins said emergency responders were being overwhelmed by the scale, speed and severity of extreme weather events.
“Long-term recovery operations are also more challenging because disasters are striking more frequently,” he said.
“We need to make our disaster management systems fit-for-purpose in the face of worsening climate disasters.”
Governments must invest in emergency services, better disaster management co-ordination, more accurate risk models and community resilience programs, he said.
A permanent disaster response force was needed at all times to step in when disasters hit, he said.
Both climate emergency leaders criticised politicians, saying they were short-sighted in planning for natural disasters, pointing to building on flood plains in NSW as an example.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has not completely ruled out a moratorium on construction.
“We need to have some serious conversations about planning in those (flood-hit) areas and some serious conversations about relocation of people which is expensive and emotionally taxing,” Prof Hughes said.
Mr Mullins suggested the use of $12 billion in subsidies to the fossil fuel industry in bolstering a buy-back scheme.
They also criticised the government’s plan to raise the Warragamba Dam wall in western Sydney, saying it was a “magic fix” that was “crazy and irresponsible”.
Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles says the Sunshine State’s exposure to natural disasters and the impact of extreme weather was not a surprise to anyone.
“We’ve experienced 100 natural disasters since the 2011 floods … we know that as the climate continues to change, Queensland will continue to be exposed,” he said.
“That’s why Queensland is doing our part to reduce our emissions.”
He noted consecutive natural disasters underscore the need for governments to seriously act on the climate emergency.
“We have a moral duty to our kids, grandkids and future generations to do something about climate change,” he told AAP.
Australian Associated Press
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Joseph Muongi

Financial.co.ke was founded by Mr. Joseph Muongi Kamau. He holds a Master of Science in Finance, Bachelors of Science in Actuarial Science and a Certificate of proficiencty in insurance. He's also the lead financial consultant.