Thursday, April 25, 2024

$100m boost to flood resilience efforts

The Government today announced a $100 million in flood protection as part of the Budget 2023 Flood and Cyclone recovery package to boost resilience against future extreme weather events.

Emergency Management Minister, Kieran McAnulty said regions affected by the recent North Island extreme weather events will be able to apply for funding from an initial $100 million in Budget 2023 for local solutions to keep them safe from future floods.

“Flooding and debris has destroyed homes and businesses, cut off communities and caused widespread damage, particularly to industries like horticulture,” Mr McAnulty said.

“We’ve also seen floodbanks protect communities from devastation. For example the Taradale stopbank, which was strengthened ahead of Gabrielle through the Government’s infrastructure programme, held during the Cyclone.”

The $100 million protection fund announced today will go towards practical flood protection infrastructure like stopbanks as well as other local measures that can protect communities from flooding, the Minister said.

He said the Government will work closely with impacted councils from the Far North through to the Wairarapa on interventions tailored to each region and their vulnerability to future flooding.

Decisions on the funding are also set to be tied to work on the future of land-use to ensure streamlined decisions are made.

“This $100 million is on top of the standard support the Government provides to councils to repair and rebuild following a disaster – this includes covering 60 percent of costs of damaged essential infrastructure owned by councils,” Mr McAnulty said.

He said it had been a tough start to the year for parts of the primary sector, with rural communities hit hard by the extreme weather events in the North Island.

“Our rural communities are not only the backbone of our economy, but they’re also a support network in times of crisis.”

“We saw the strength of our rural communities during the response to Cyclone Gabrielle with people going above and beyond to check on their neighbours, using whatever they could to keep each other safe.”

The Government is investing $35.4 million to support the safety and wellbeing of farmers and growers, and stock in cyclone damaged areas by scaling up on-farm technical, scientific and financial advice.

This funding will support:

  • access to expert advice where it is needed to inform and address urgent  health and safety, animal welfare needs, and to ensure the safety of ongoing operations;
  • urgent maintenance where this is critical to the health and safety of stock and staff; and
  • critical transport of essential supplies, people, and stock related to animal health and welfare needs and health and safety.

“Of this, $5.4 million will be targeted to help operate rural community hubs, and ensure ongoing access to reliable telecommunications including satellite connectivity,” Minister McAnulty said.

Deputy Prime Minister, Carmel Sepuloni said the package would also provide workforce and social support to businesses and workers in affected regions.

“The labour markets in Hawkes Bay and on the East Coast have changed. They usually have a regular and predictable seasonal jobs market, but the weather events have affected this and we are seeing the number of people on jobseeker begin to slowly rise,” Ms Sepuloni said.

“The package we are announcing today will help people retrain and prepare for the jobs that will be required during the recovery and rebuild. 

“As well as retraining, we will also focus on ‘retaining’.

“To achieve this we’re increasing investment in successful schemes to keep people in the workforce including the Transition to Work grant, the $5K to Work scheme, Mana in Mahi, and industry partnerships.

“There will be an additional $6 million for the Food Secure Communities programme to support community food providers, such as food banks and food rescue organisations, to meet the increased demand on their services,” she said.

The recovery package also includes $5 million for Extending Community Support Funds, establishes a new Jobs and Skills Hub in Gisborne, and provides a further $1 million towards Enhanced Taskforce Green, who are still supporting Councils with clean-up work.

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