Australia to create disaster recovery office after spate of natural disasters


Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks during a joint press conference held with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at Admiralty House in Sydney, Australia, February 28, 2020. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

CANBERRA (Reuters) - Australia will create a new disaster relief department to hasten the delivery of government aid, Prime Minister Scott Morrison will say on Wednesday.

Australia has been ravaged by a spate of natural disasters in recent years, including huge bushfires across its east coast and cyclones across the west which bought widespread flooding.

While Australia has offered financial aid, some communities have complained they have been left waiting for assistance with rebuilding.

With an election expected next year, Morrison will say on Wednesday his government will create the so-called National Recovery and Resilience Agency.

"In the past two years Australians have faced floods, bushfires, cyclones, drought and now the COVID-19 pandemic and I’m determined to keep Australians safe and support the recovery of communities and regions right across Australia," Morrison will say, according to extracts of the announcement seen by Reuters.

Morrison will also say the new unit will be given a A$600 million ($462.8 million) fund to build bushfire and cyclone proofing houses, building levees and improving the resilience of telecommunications and essential supplies.

($1 = 1.2963 Australian dollars)

(Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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