Senate inquiry to examine risks of extreme weather events
The Senate inquiry will examine the likelihood of increased extreme weather events and Australia's preparedness to cope. Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones
The Greens have secured support for a Senate inquiry into Australia’s exposure and preparedness for extreme weather events.
The Senate’s Environment Committee will examine the projected frequency and costs of drought, bushfires, heatwaves, floods and storm surges.
“From the Frankenstorm to firestorms, from droughts to floods, we’re seeing more and more extreme weather events around the world, the greater intensity of which scientists are clearly attributing to global warming,” Australian Greens Leader, Senator Christine Milne, said.
Senator Milne said it was “very timely’’ to examine the impact of weather disasters on the availability and cost of insurance.
"Australia is totally unprepared for the increased frequency and severity of extreme weather events,’’ she said. "In part, this is because of constant references to 'one-off' responses with a flood levee or similar gestures, rather than an acceptance that we need significant shifts in effort and resourcing, not to mention co-ordination of planning from local, to state or federal levels.’’
The inquiry will report on 20 March 2013.
The Insurance Council of Australia has been calling for greater spending by governments on mitigation efforts, particularly against flood damage. Suncorp has stopped selling insurance in Roma and Emerald, two Queensland towns hit by floods several years running.
The announcement of the inquiry came on a day when wild weather caused havoc in central Perth, with the roof partially blown off a new $20 million hotel and trees felled by high winds in the central business district.
The Terrace Hotel on St George’s Terrace was opened earlier this month, after the heritage building was restored to house 15 luxury rooms at a cost of nearly $500 a night.
Fallen trees also caused traffic chaos in the city centre and Kings Park.
In recent days, international bodies such as the World Bank and the United Nations have released reports warning of the increased risks from rising greenhouse gas emissions. The analysis comes as delegates from almost 200 nations meet in Doha, Qatar, to negotiate the extension of the Kyoto Protocol and the possibility of a new global pact to limit climate change.