NSW Reconstruction Authority
The NSW Reconstruction Authority is dedicated to disaster prevention, preparedness, recovery, and reconstruction.
The government has established the Authority as part of its response to the 2022 floods and in line with recommendations from the independent 2022 NSW Flood Inquiry, which was led by Professor Mary O’Kane and Mick Fuller.
It is a statutory corporation reporting to the Minister for Planning, the Hon Anthony Roberts MP, and the Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience, and Minister for Flood Recovery, the Hon Steph Cooke MP.
The Authority was established in December 2022 to better prepare communities for disasters, such as the devastating floods that NSW experienced in 2022.
These events, which occurred across much of NSW, have severely tested the state’s ability to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters.
The establishment of the NSW Reconstruction Authority means NSW communities will be best placed to face natural disasters and recover faster.
Functions and powers
The Authority will be the key agency to support communities to rebuild and recover quicker and help to build greater resilience.
The NSW Reconstruction Authority Act 2022 along with the NSW Reconstruction Authority Regulation 2023 establishes and provides powers to the Authority and sets out its functions and responsibilities. The Authority, the Minister for Planning and the Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience and Minister for Flood Recovery will have a variety of powers. These include the ability to enter into contracts and to acquire land.
There are other powers that can only be used in specific circumstances to speed up reconstruction and recovery activities. For example, the Minister for Planning can authorise development without the need for ordinary development approval, but only in very specific circumstances. The Minister can do this during a state of emergency, where the Minister is satisfied the authorisation is necessary to protect the safety and welfare of members of the public.
In February 2023, Simon Draper was appointed as CEO of the NSW Reconstruction Authority, taking over from interim CEO, Mick Cassel, Secretary Department of Planning and Environment.
Having worked in the NSW Government for 9 years, Simon was Deputy Secretary Economic Policy at the Department of Premier and Cabinet, Secretary of the Department of Industry and was CEO of Infrastructure NSW from 2019 to 2023.
The first four members of the NSW Reconstruction Authority Advisory Board were appointed on 2 March 2023.
The inaugural Advisory Board members include Chairperson Stephen Murray, Charles Glanville, David Owens APM, and Professor Mary O'Kane AC, appointed for a term of three years until 1 March 2026.
The role of the Advisory Board is to provide expert advice and make recommendations to the Chief Executive Officer, the Minister for Planning and the Minister for Flood Recovery and Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience.
The Advisory Board will eventually consist of seven members, with two additional members to be nominated by the Australian Government, and a fifth state member position proposed to be filled later in 2023.
The NSW Reconstruction Authority is responsible for facilitating disaster prevention, preparedness, recovery, reconstruction, and adaptation to the effects of natural disasters in NSW.
The Authority will:
- lead disaster resilience, risk reduction, adaptation and mitigation activities
- provide education and infrastructure before disasters to minimise harm
- ensure the reconstruction process begins swiftly when a disaster strikes
- reduce community devastation.
The Authority’s responsibilities include:
- creating and implementing the State disaster mitigation plan
- giving advice as needed to councils and government agencies on disaster adaptation
- supporting communities to help recover from a disaster
- coordinating development in disaster-affected areas
- acquiring and subdividing land for rebuilding communities
- rebuilding infrastructure.
This represents a new and unique alignment between disaster planning and strategic planning that does not currently exist in NSW. This new approach will be an integral part of how we design our future cities and towns.
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Who will the Authority report to?
As the authority’s roles and responsibilities include certain planning powers, it will be responsible to the Minister for Planning. The authority will also report to the Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience, and Minister for Flood Recovery, the Hon Steph Cooke MP.
What is the role of the Advisory Board?
The Advisory Board has been established to support the functions of the Authority. Its role is to provide advice and make recommendations to the CEO and to the relevant Ministers on matters to assist in the objectives of the Authority, namely, to promote community resilience to the impact of disasters in NSW. The chairperson of the Board is required to give the Minister a quarterly report about the exercise of the Authority's functions.
Will the Authority be responsible for handling emergencies?
The authority will not be responsible for handling emergencies. In an emergency, combat agencies will continue to remain responsible for issuing evacuation orders and response-related activities.
When will the Authority be operational?
The NSW Reconstruction Authority was established and commenced operations in December 2022.
What is the State disaster mitigation plan? What is the State disaster mitigation plan?
One of the authority’s key priorities is to develop the State disaster mitigation plan.
The State disaster mitigation plan will:
- identify potential strategies and actions for reducing the impact of disasters
- assess and consider the impacts of climate change on disasters
- determine priority projects for regions to mitigate the impact of disasters.
The State disaster mitigation plan will set priorities for the plan, disaster adaptation plans and strategic plans under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.
What has happened to Resilience NSW?
Resilience NSW has been wound down with the establishment of the NSW Reconstruction Authority. Most staff working at Resilience NSW have transitioned to the NSW Reconstruction Authority bringing their valuable experience and knowledge. Some staff will be offered positions across appropriate state government agencies, where there is better alignment to their expertise.
What will happen to the Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation?
To ensure there is a single agency responsible for the reconstruction of devastated communities in NSW, the Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation will be transitioned into the NSW Reconstruction Authority. The Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation will continue to help rebuild communities within the Byron, Clarence Valley, Lismore, Richmond Valley, Tweed and Kyogle local government areas until it is transitioned into the Authority in 2023.
What will happen to my application for the grant under the Resilient Homes Fund?
If you have applied for either the Resilient Land Program or the Resilient Homes Program, your application is being considered and there is nothing further to do. Under the Resilient Homes Program, the Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation is prioritising homes in highest flood risk areas of the Northern Rivers and speaking with the most severely impacted homeowners first. The Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation will keep you updated as the program rolls out and you can expect more information in early 2023. Find out more at Resilient Homes Fund
When will the community have their say on the NSW Reconstruction Authority Regulation 2023?
A Regulatory Impact Statement will be on exhibition by May 2023 for a minimum of 21 days providing an opportunity for stakeholders and the broader community to have their say on the Regulatory Impact Statement along with the Regulation.