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NSW creates 'specialised' disaster recovery taskforce

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The NSW Government has set up a “specialised” team to support local councils with post-disaster recovery in the wake of recent severe flooding in parts of the state.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro, who is also Minister Responsible for Disaster Recovery, says the Disaster Response Taskforce will help council staff develop and deliver disaster recovery projects across NSW.

The new staff on the taskforce will assist councils in applying for disaster funding to ensure they have the resources they need to fix vital infrastructure in a timely manner.

“The scale of the recent floods across NSW has put local councils under immense pressure as they work hard to restore safe access and rebuild - a job that they sometimes do not have the in-house capability or capacity to deliver quickly,” Mr Barilaro said.

“That’s why we have established this specialised taskforce to work with councils across the state to help their communities get back on their feet as soon as possible.”

Large parts of NSW were inundated in March, prompting the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) to declare the event an industry catastrophe. The catastrophe declaration was later extended to include parts of south-east Queensland.

ICA data shows the March floods in NSW and Queensland have led to incurred claims of at least $702 million.

Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole says the specialised staff will be based in the regions they are supporting. He says this will make a huge difference in understanding the needs of each community. The staff should be in place by the end of this month.

“We know how important these roads are to local communities, and how difficult the recovery process can be, which is why we’re putting boots on the ground in affected communities to make sure funding and expertise is available as soon as possible,” he said.

Minister for Local Government Shelley Hancock says the taskforce is great news for local councils.

“This will help councils on the ground where it’s needed most, easing pressure on the local government sector and helping to get our road network back on track after several years of unprecedented natural disasters,” she said.