Disaster-proofing grants not yet available

Disaster funding to help people bushfire and cyclone proof their homes is still months away.
Disaster funding to help people bushfire and cyclone proof their homes is still months away.

Homeowners won't be able to apply for promised grants to help disaster-proof their homes for months, with Labor querying how the funds will be distributed.

A newly established national disaster resilience agency was given $600 million in the federal budget, including for projects to help make homes bushfire and cyclone proof.

But people won't be able to apply for grants before the end of the year, as criteria for funding and a proposed rating system for households are yet to be finalised.

The National Recovery and Resilience Agency told a Senate committee on Tuesday it hoped household applications would be open at the year's end.

Chief operating officer Nico Padovan said the minister would have the final say on funding decisions.

"Where decisions are made by the minister that are contrary to the recommendations of the agency, there is a very clear process for declaring those and providing further detail as to why there's been a deviation - should that occur," he said.

When asked by Labor senator Tim Ayres to confirm who the minister was, Mr Padovan paused, smiled and replied "Minister McKenzie".

Emergency Management Minister Bridget McKenzie spent 18 months on the backbench after quitting cabinet over the sports rorts saga where grants were found to have favoured coalition and marginal seats.

Labor has sought to keep up pressure on the coalition government for marginal seats in grants, more recently for commuter car parks.

The Senate committee was also told applications for separate grants to help with recovery from the 2019-20 bushfires opened five days ago.

Another broader emergency response fund had set aside half its yearly $200 million pool to flood mitigation.

Of that, $50 million had been allocated to specific projects.

Australian Associated Press