29 November 2019
We approached Alan for some of his perspectives on how local governments are dealing with coastal hazards and climate risks in Australia.
“The Australian Coastal Councils Association (ACCA) recently conducted a survey of their member councils to get them to identify the number one priority issue or the range of issues that are of current concern to them. What emerged as the number one priority is the need for adequate funding to respond to coastal hazards including climate change impacts.
“Another priority was for the need for a national approach to managing coastal hazards; one that involved the three levels of governments working together - which doesn’t exist at the moment. This is important because, with the growing recognition of the role coastal councils are going to play in terms of responding to the impacts of climate change, rising sea levels, more severe extreme weather events, and widespread coastal erosion, there is also a recognition that they do not have sufficient resources to undertake this huge task.
“Part of the issue is Australia’s vertical structural balance, whereby the distribution of taxation revenue is heavily weighted in favour of the Commonwealth (Federal) Government. So the way this works currently is that the Commonwealth Government receives 81-82 % of total taxation revenue. The State Governments receive about 16% of those revenues, leaving very little for local governments. This makes it extremely difficult for local governments to do all of the things they need to do with their own financial resources, as they simply don’t have the funding available to implement strategies and plans.
“The Association believes that there is a need for inter-government agreement and governance – in the form of an inter-governmental committee – on the coastal zone. This was proposed at the House of Representatives Coastal Enquiry about ten years ago, and recognises that there is a need for the Commonwealth Government to become involved and provide the leadership and resources necessary to respond effectively to climate change.”
This text was originally published on Focus Issue 2, 2019
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