Statement attributable to Rob Whelan, CEO, Insurance Council of Australia (ICA):
The insurance industry welcomes the Berejiklian Government’s commitment to engage contractors and fully fund the removal of debris and site clearance for all bushfire-affected homeowners in New South Wales.
This arrangement treats all affected property owners fairly and equally. It should result in faster and safer site clean-up for many, and help ensure greater community safety in the removal and transport of potentially hazardous materials.
Where there are urgent safety issues, individual insurers may decide to conduct their own site clean-up at no expense to the policyholders or the insurer.
Government-funded clean-up will also enable insurers to maximise the funds available in their customers’ policies for rebuilding.
In line with the industry’s longstanding commitment to use local trades, the ICA suggests that government should encourage private-sector clean-up contractors to appoint suitably qualified local trades.
The ICA welcomes the Commonwealth’s financial involvement in this arrangement with NSW and encourages all state governments to adopt similar models to assist communities in their bushfire recoveries.
Government-funded cleanup was a notable component of recovery efforts following the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires and is widely regarded as best practice after a natural disaster.