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Monday, 8 March 1999
Page: 2434

Senator O'Brien asked the Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, upon notice, on 10 December 1998:

"With reference to the Coalition policy document, titled `Primed for Growth', in which the Government committed itself to spending $10 million over 3 years from the 1999—2000 financial year for an expanded rural and regional floodplain management program:

(1) Given that the policy (which) states that, `metropolitan areas will be excluded because of their capacity to pay for local measures from their rate base': can a definition be provided of metropolitan and regional areas for the purposes of this program.

(2) On what basis was it concluded that all metropolitan areas are able to meet the cost of flood mitigation from their own tax base.

(3) Will areas participating in the program be based on local government areas.

(4) (a) How will funding be allocated between competing applications for assistance; and (b) who will determine the distribution of funding.

(5) Have discussions commenced with the states about their funding contribution; if so: [a] when did those discussions commence; [b] which states have participated; and [c] what has been the outcome of those discussions; if not, when will discussions with the states commence.

(6) Have discussions with local government authorities about their contribution to the flood plain management program commenced; if so, [a] when did those discussions commence; [b] which local governments have participated; and [c] what has been the outcome of those discussions; if not, when does the Government plan to commence negotiations with local government about its contribution to the flood plain management program."

Senator Alston (Communications, Information Technology and the Arts) —The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) The honourable senator is referring to the commitment of the Government to spending an additional $10 million over three years for an expanded floodplain management program. Responsibility for this and for assistance for flood mitigation in regional Australia has been transferred to the portfolio of the Minister for Transport and Regional Services, the Hon. John Anderson, MP. It will be for him to make any necessary definitions concerning metropolitan and regional areas.

(2) Flood mitigation is the responsibility of State and local government, not of the Federal Government. The additional Federal funding for rural and regional floodplain management, which includes flood mitigation works and measures, will be targeted at regional areas and centres as part of a pro-active policy initiative. Experience in floodplain management since 1983-84 has shown that metropolitan areas have been able to maintain investment programs for a larger range of flood mitigation and other structures within their existing tax bases when compared with country areas.

(3), (4), (5), and (6): The Minister for Transport and Regional Services will be responsible for the administration of assistance for the new regional floodplain management and flood mitigation program, together with negotiations with other authorities (and the private sector) concerning funding shares.