CEO of Suncorp Insurance and the co-author of a new report highlighting the economic impact of disasters like the Tathra and District fire, have called on the Federal Government to do more to mitigate against climate change and make regional communities more resilient to the increasing threat of natural disasters.
The report, Economic Recovery after Disaster Strikes, released last week by SGS Economics & Planning, and Suncorp, highlights the importance of insurance in helping communities recover from disasters.
It found the Tathra and District bushfire hurt the local Far South Coast economy by an estimated $207 million, or a 33.7 per cent decline in local GDP.
Co-author of the report, Terry Rawnsley, principal and partner at SGS Economics & Planning, says the Tathra and District fire had a significant economic impact "largely driven by disruption to the town's key tourism sector".
Suncorp Insurance CEO Gary Dransfield said the report reveals "the true impact of natural disasters, and the role of insurance to assist Australia's regional cities and towns to recover."
He said despite the increasing risk of more severe weather events and disasters such as floods, cyclones and bushfires, the Federal Government was "continuing to invest 97 per cent of disaster funding in clean-up and recovery rather than prevention".
"Very little funding is directed towards preventing natural disasters or making homes, businesses or communities more capable of withstanding the impact of fires, floods or cyclones - despite the Productivity Commission recommending in 2014 that the Federal Government should invest $200 million a year in mitigation," he said.
Mr Dransfield said only through "committed action that builds resilience and reduces the increasing impact of severe weather events" can insurance become more affordable to regional Australians.