Australia to declare flooding a national emergency

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Wednesday he will declare a national emergency following flooding across large parts of the east coast that has claimed 22 lives.

Morrison made the announcement during a visit to Lismore, the flood-hit state of New South Wales, where four people died last week. A declaration of a national emergency, Morrison said, would “make sure all our emergency powers are in place and we cut through any red tape that might get in the way.”

“So what we are dealing with is an extraordinary event. Australia is becoming a more difficult country to live in because of this natural disaster,” he said.

Flooded buildings at Londonderry on the outskirts of Sydney, Australia, Thursday, March 3, 2022. (Photo: AP)

Flooded buildings at Londonderry on the outskirts of Sydney, Australia, Thursday, March 3, 2022. (Photo: AP)

This is the first declaration of an emergency since the law was passed in December 2020 in response to catastrophic bushfires over the previous summer in the Southern Hemisphere.

Torrential rain has now created a state of emergency in the states of New South Wales and Queensland. Several communities affected by the floods two years ago were unable to cope with the fires.

With the declaration, flood victims do not need to show identification documents to receive aid money and in some situations, the federal government can act independently in areas where the state government has not requested assistance.

Floods hit Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, Australia’s third most populous city, on February 28 after the city of 2.6 million people received 80 per cent of its annual rainfall in the previous three days.

Sydney, the capital of New South Wales and Australia’s most populous city, located 730 kilometers south of Brisbane, has experienced the start of the year with the most rainfall ever recorded in a single year. Parts of the city of 5 million people were inundated by floods after nearly 75 percent of the annual average rainfall since January 1. Several communities experienced the worst flooding ever recorded in their locations. [ka/ab]