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Laws flagged to declare national disasters

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The Morrison government has responded to the findings of the royal commission into national natural disaster arrangements with new laws and a federal agency.

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Laws will be introduced to federal parliament to enable the declaration of a national emergency.
The laws were part of the Morrison government’s response released on Friday to the royal commission into natural disasters.
The declaration will fast-track national responses to bushfires, cyclones and floods, allowing the provision of capabilities beyond those of states and territories.
The initial legislation will establish the declaration of power and focus on streamlining the exercise of federal powers to support the rapid response to, and recovery from, a national emergency.
Following these laws passing, the federal government will examine actions the Commonwealth could take to complement the states and territories once a declaration has been made.
A national agency will also be set up from July to take the lead on natural disaster resilience, relief and recovery.
“This new agency will coordinate and align Australia’s national capability to build resilience, better prepare for natural disasters, and recover from all hazards,” the government said in its response.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said there were good operating arrangements between the states, territories and Commonwealth when it comes to dealing on the ground with natural disasters.
But he said there were a number of “broken points” particularly around governance.
The federal government will also work with the states and territories on a new national forum for them to collaborate on strategic decision-making.
A new virtual climate and disaster risk information and services centre known as “Resilience Services” will also be set up mid-2021.
The centre will connect information held by the Bureau of Meteorology, CSIRO, Geoscience Australia and the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
It will support the work of Emergency Management Australia and the new national resilience, relief and recovery agency.
A recommendation to produce new down-scaled climate projections only received in-principle support.

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