Helping communities affected by natural disasters

In late 2010 and early 2011, AGS was called on to provide urgent advice to the Australian Government on various matters in response to the series of natural disasters that devastated communities across New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland.

AGS advised Emergency Management Australia on the delivery of Australian Government financial assistance through the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payments (AGDRP) under the Social Security Act 1991 (Cth) and payments under Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements Determination 2011 (the NDRRA Determination).

AGDRP payments can be made to those adversely affected following a Ministerial determination that an event is a 'major disaster'. People will have been 'adversely affected' if, as a direct result of the disaster, they have been seriously injured, have had their principal place of residence destroyed or they have been unable to access that residence. These people qualified for a payment of $1,000 plus $400 in respect of each of their dependent children, helping them to pay for emergency accommodation and basic supplies.

Payments made under the NDRRA Determination allow for the restoration or replacement of essential public assets damaged as a direct result of a natural disaster. Under the NDRRA Determination, the Commonwealth may make payments to a State in partial reimbursement of 'State expenditure' in relation to a natural disaster.

Another key area that AGS advised on was the formulation of the Australian Government's flood levy, introduced to assist affected communities to recover from the floods and to rebuild essential infrastructure, including roads and schools.

Enacted through the Tax Laws Amendment (Temporary Flood and Cyclone Reconstruction Levy) Act 2011 and the Income Tax Rates Amendment (Temporary Flood and Cyclone Reconstruction Levy) Act 2011, the levy forms part of a package of measures designed to help affected individuals and businesses.

The advice was provided by a core group of AGS people including Leo Hardiman, Damian Page, Kathryn Graham, Anna Lehane and Jonathon Hutton.

This is an extract from the 2010–11 AGS annual report