With the damage and reconstruction bill set to exceed $2 billion, and with almost 50,000 insurance claims lodged so far, the prospect of more and larger deluges will inevitably increase premiums.
Perversely, this will make it harder for low-income people to afford the flood cover they need most of all.
A contributing factor in the Brisbane floods a decade ago was the mismanagement of the release of water from the Wivenhoe Dam. This time it’s the sheer volume of water that’s poured down day after day, and has had nowhere else to go but literally up to the eaves in the worst-affected places.
In Lismore in northern NSW every shop and office in the central business district is under water. Yet the size of the torrent that has broken the banks of the nearby Wilson River would more than likely have overwhelmed any feasible-scale raising of the town’s levee defences.
Scott Morrison has quickly sent in the army to help state emergency services and avoided being caught flat-footed again as during the bushfire crisis two summers back. Amid a third weather-related natural disaster in four years, Labor’s political attack is focusing on the $4.8 billion Emergency Response Fund Mr Morrison established in 2019, questioning why more of that money hasn’t been used to fund disaster mitigation and resilience projects.
But what about the question of rebuilding fiscal resilience to cope with bigger and more frequent drought, fire and flood emergencies? Budget repair, however, is the leadership hose that both Labor or the Coalition remain unwilling to firmly grasp.