STATE Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin has asked NSW Treasurer Matt Kean to urgently take up the issue of a flood reinsurance scheme for the Northern Rivers region with the Commonwealth.
“In this current flood disaster we are again faced with a large number of uninsured properties because households and businesses have been priced out of flood insurance,” Ms Saffin said.
“Our region needs a Commonwealth government-backed scheme similar to the Northern Australia Cyclone Reinsurance Pool that covers cyclone and cyclone-related flood damage in cyclone-affected areas – backed by a $10-billion government guarantee.
“It is clear we need a similar scheme in the Northern Rivers region, given the scale of the flood disaster and the frequency of flood events here.
“The same issues that led to the creation of the Northern Australia scheme apply to our region.”
In announcing the scheme last May, the Prime Minister said: Homeowners and businesses have been faced with crippling insurance costs and in some cases can’t get insurance at all. It’s not ok and we’re going to change that.
Ms Saffin said if it’s good enough for Northern Australia, it’s good enough for the Northern Rivers.
“I have had talks with the Insurance Council of Australia about insurance issues here, and the Council played a role in the design of the Northern Australia reinsurance scheme. They have welcomed the final design with some provisions,” Ms Saffin said.
Insurance Council of Australia CEO Andrew Hall says: “To provide long-term sustainable reductions in premiums, Australian governments – both state and federal – need to invest in stronger homes and infrastructure that makes communities more resilient to worsening extreme weather.
We must also improve resilience standards in building codes, remove state insurance stamp duties and levies, and make better land planning decisions that factor in worsening extreme weather and its impacts.”
Ms Saffin said there are many aspects to consider in mitigating the impact and cost of natural disasters and much to be discussed as we move in to the reconstruction phase.
“I advocated for and recently secured the Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation, led by Chief Executive David Witherdin, to drive the rebuilding and restoration effort,” Ms Saffin said.
“The future of insurance for our region is a key part of the reconstruction, along with all the other issues I have flagged, including proper funding for the voluntary house raising and purchase scheme, land-swap and having a standing reconstruction state agency/authority at state level, that can prepare for these events. That does not exist now.
“And we need to know that our efforts locally are being backed in by governments.
“I have asked Treasurer Kean to take up a flood reinsurance scheme with the Commonwealth as a matter of urgency and NSW Shadow Treasurer Daniel Mookhey MLC to do the same with his Commonwealth counterpart.
“We must sort this issue out for our region once and for all.”
BRIEFING: Lismore MP Janelle Saffin makes a point while briefing NSW Treasurer Matt Kean and insurance industry representatives in Lismore on March 10 this year.