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Australia needs to boost its "shamefully inadequate" emergency services funding and set up a national body to oversee disaster management, former federal emergency services minister Robert McClelland says.
Mr McClelland says more attention should be given to preventing poor planning decisions before they lead to unnecessary damage and the loss of life.
"In short, the consequences of failing to develop a more sophisticated approach to emergency management is inevitably more loss in terms of lives, property and environment but also, potentially, in terms of maintaining a civil society," Mr McClelland said in a chapter of a book, Next Generation Disaster and Security Management, to be released on Wednesday.
Australia should consider having a similar organisation to the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Mr McClelland said.
A central body like FEMA would oversee the three Australian agencies that deal with natural and security emergencies - the national security resilience policy division, the national security capability development division and Emergency Management Australia.
Mr McClelland said once a dedicated agency was set up to focus on all aspects of emergency prevention, preparation, response and recovery, it would have to push for enough funds for national emergency management capability.
The commonwealth spends less than $30 million a year on natural disaster mitigation strategies, the former minister said.
"Currently, unfortunately, funding is shamefully inadequate," he said.
Mr McClelland said governments had helped to create a culture of entitlement rather than a culture of prevention.
"This has occurred because the emphasis of government has been on being seen to provide assistance to individuals after they fall victims to a natural disaster rather on developing strategies and working with communities to prevent those communities from falling victim to disaster in the first place," he said.
Mr McClelland said eligibility to Australian government disaster recovery payments (AGDRP) should be tightened for those disadvantaged from natural disasters or terrorism, which would free up funds to prevent injury loss and damage from future events.
An adult affected by a natural disaster or terrorist event is entitled to $1000 while a child can receive $400.
"A 20 per cent saving on the AGDRP commitments in respect to the Queensland floods and cyclones Yasi, for instance, would have released approximately $166 million for future mitigation measures," Mr McClelland said.
Based on information provided by and with the permission of the Western Australian Land Information Authority (2013) trading as Landgate.