Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 1 Hansard (20 February) . . Page.. 276 ..
MR QUINLAN (continuing):
Mr Speaker, this appropriation bill will not cover the full costs of the January bushfires. The financial impact of the bushfires will take some time to be assessed. Other jurisdictions that have been through flood or fire disasters have taken up to three years to fully identify the costs.
The total impact of this bill in isolation on the financial position of the territory will be somewhat less than the appropriation provided. Subsequent reimbursements or recoveries will, to some degree, offset a number of costs. The territory, however, will be left to manage a number of costs such as those for the increased mitigation and prevention which occurred over the period.
The territory's insurance arrangements will cover a fair proportion of the costs. For example, insurance will cover much of the cost of replacing many of the territory's destroyed or damaged assets. Work is well under way with assessment of damages and management of claims.
The territory is also eligible for reimbursement from the Commonwealth under the natural disaster recovery arrangement-or NDRA, as it is termed. Reimbursement of costs under this arrangement is subject to eligibility criteria and thresholds. While obviously the NDRA will not provide full compensation for the disaster, it provides a significant contribution that is certainly appreciated by the territory at this time.
Work is under way within departments to capture the cost of bushfires so that the Assembly can be informed of the total cost. There may be additional costs beyond this bill that have to be considered subsequently, either in a further supplementary appropriation bill or in the 2003-04 budget. Some programs-for example, the recovery task force-will continue into forward years. The ongoing cost of the task force will be considered in the 2003-04 budget.
Mr Speaker, I now turn to the bill. This bill provides funding to various agencies involved in initial efforts and subsequent recovery from bushfire. I will touch on a number of specifics. More detail can, of course, be found within the supplementary budget paper.
The bill provides $8.24 million to the Chief Minister's Department. This will allow for the continued operation of recovery centres and the establishment of the recovery task force, which will coordinate the community and business efforts to assist the victims of the disaster and advise on the longer term recovery of Canberra.
The bill incorporates funding for two studies to be conducted. The first is the McLeod inquiry on the adequacy of the response to the bushfires by the ACT Emergency Services Bureau and its components and other relevant agencies. The second review relates to the non-urban strategic development study which will consider the best use of land for sustainable development of the territory.