In the wake of increasing flood emergencies and the devastating impact they have had on homes and communities, organizations representing planners, builders, and insurers are coming together to demand immediate planning reform from state governments.
The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA), Master Builders Australia (MBA), and the Planning Institute of Australia (PIA), along with the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA), recently convened the inaugural National Industry Roundtable on Land Use Planning and Resilience.
During this critical discussion, approximately 60 experts from various sectors, including government, financial services, property, and community, joined forces to call upon state and territory governments to rethink their planning strategies. The primary goal of this initiative is to ensure that no more homes are built in high-risk flood-prone locations without adequate consideration of the associated risks.
The urgency for planning reform stems from the escalating costs of extreme weather events, which are impacting all Australians. The historical lack of foresight in planning decisions has left communities vulnerable to flood-related disasters, and these costs have been steadily rising. By addressing the issue head-on, the roundtable aims to prevent further development of flood-prone lands, safeguard lives, and minimize the financial burden on taxpayers and the insurance sector.
Andrew Hall, CEO Insurance Council of Australia states, “The flood events of 2022, with almost 300,000 disaster-related claims costing around $7 billion, has driven up premiums and has resulted in affordability constraints for those at highest risk. Without insurance, homeowners likely can’t access a mortgage, and that is the wrong direction for our country.”
A communique has been jointly issued by the ICA, MBA, and PIA, outlining their recommendations for comprehensive reform. This crucial document will be sent to planning ministers, who have also gathered to discuss this pressing matter. The collective message from the organizations involved in the roundtable is that proactive action is essential to address the challenges posed by future housing development.
Without swift and effective planning reform, the consequences will be dire. The increasing population pressures and the prevalence of inadequate planning regulations could lead to further construction in high-risk flood zones, perpetuating the cycle of destruction and escalating recovery and remediation costs. Moreover, the strain on the already burdened insurance sector will only intensify. Denita Wawn, CEO Master Builders Australia comments, “With a housing crisis at the forefront for many communities and a growing population, we must ensure that our planning laws are fit for the future and take an appropriate risk-management approach.” Wawn continues, “Governments are encouraged to take a balanced approach to development and resist a default of building out with alternative considerations such as building up to take the pressure off the housing system and supported with infrastructure that is more resilient and adaptable to extreme weather events.”
To avoid these scenarios, the roundtable attendees stressed the need for far-reaching planning reforms that prioritize community safety and resilience. By encouraging responsible land use planning, focusing on risk assessments, and adopting innovative strategies, state governments can create a more sustainable and secure future for all Australians. Matt Collins, CEO Planning Institute of Australia explains, “Planning is a critical tool for influencing the level of future disaster risk, and our changing climate means we need to act now to limit the impact of extreme weather on our communities. By adopting new risk-based policies and investing in better mapping and data, we can ensure development avoids or minimises exposure to flood hazards.”
The call for urgent planning reform comes as a united effort from planners, builders, and insurers, who recognize the shared responsibility to protect homes, livelihoods, and communities from the impacts of flooding. By heeding their recommendations and implementing robust land use planning measures, state governments can pave the way for a safer and more resilient future for the building, construction, design, and architecture industries and the nation as a whole.
Via Master Builders Australia Limited
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