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MORRISON’S DISASTER LIES LEAVE QUEENSLANDERS AT RISK

November 28, 2021

SENATOR MURRAY WATT
SHADOW MINISTER FOR DISASTER MANAGEMENT
LABOR SENATOR FOR QUEENSLAND

MORRISON’S DISASTER LIES LEAVE QUEENSLANDERS AT RISK


Summer’s approaching, and disaster season is here.

Just this week, we’ve seen heavy rain and floods across Queensland and New South Wales, a cyclone off Western Australia and a La Nina warning, meaning more to come.

Around the country, our brave emergency workers and volunteers have been preparing for months.

Homeowners are clearing their gutters, to get ready for what’s looming.

If only the Morrison Government was doing its part too.

Instead, it’s hoarding funds that it promised would keep Australians safe.

For well over two years, Scott Morrison has sat on a massive war chest that he promised would help natural disaster victims and protect us from future events.

The Emergency Response Fund was announced by the Government in April 2019 and supported by Labor. Now, it’s just one more example of Scott Morrison making big promises, but not delivering. 

The Government told us this $4 billion fund would pay for up to $200 million per year in disaster recovery and prevention.

But over two years on, only $17 million has been released. And not a single project to show for it.

An Empty Resilience Fund from an empty Prime Minister.

Even worse, by keeping this money in the bank, Scott Morrison’s government has earned itself over $700 million in interest. Forty times what it’s paid out!

This idle fund has now ballooned to $4.7 billion. It’s helping the Government’s bottom line when it should be helping disaster-prone communities.

When challenged, the Prime Minister says he’s doing this, with other funds.

Tell that to the bushfire victims still living in caravans. Sadly, not even disaster victims are safe from Scott Morrison’s lies.

Think of the flood levees, cyclone shelters, evacuation centres and telecommunications improvements that we could have built by now, to keep Australians safe, cut insurance costs in our north and reduce the repair bill for taxpayers.

Instead, we enter the third disaster season since this fund was created, with much of the country exposed to what the Prime Minister – and the rest of us - know is coming.

If you think this is familiar, you’re right.

Two years ago, Scott Morrison was warned of intense bushfire risks across our nation. Meteorologists warned him, ex-fire chiefs warned him, but he wouldn’t even agree to meet them.

As history now shows, Scott Morrison ignored the warnings, disappeared to Hawaii, and said he didn’t hold a hose, as the country burned.

We owe it to the 33 Australians who lost their lives in the Black Summer bushfires to be better prepared.

We owe it to the 3,000 Australians who lost their homes to act on the warnings, to keep people safe.

Properly investing in disaster mitigation is a crucial part of this.

The funds are there – they don’t need to be found. We just need our government to use them, like it promised.

We can all see the Morrison Government is falling apart. Distracted by internal divisions over vaccination, integrity issues and right-wing extremism.

But Australians shouldn’t pay the price for a distracted Prime Minister, who’s always slow to act.

We are running out of time. La Nina is coming.

The Morrison Government needs to act now – before it’s too late.

This piece was originally published in The Sunday Mail on Sunday, 28 November, 2021. 

A FAIR GO FOR AUSTRALIA