Flood buy-backs could be expanded: Watt

A scheme to buy back properties from flood-affected homeowners in pockets of NSW and Queensland could be expanded to other high-risk parts of the country.

Emergency Management Minister Murray Watt said joint federal-state plans to buy back homes in the NSW Northern Rivers region and southeast Queensland might be extended to more flood-ravaged communities following discussions with the states.

"There are certain areas in the country that are prone to repeated flooding, and it often ends up actually being more cost-effective, let alone avoiding the emotional heartbreak ... if we can move some of these people to higher ground," he told ABC radio on Thursday.

"I can certainly think of other areas of the country where these kinds of approaches might be needed."

The federal and NSW state governments last month announced a $800 million find to buy back 2000 destroyed homes in Lismore and surrounding areas that were devastated by flooding earlier in the year.

Senator Watt said he wouldn't identify particular areas where the scheme might be expanded, but he noted there were regions in Australia that were repeatedly subject to flooding.

Under the scheme, home owners can also apply for grants to help repair their property.

Senator Watt said the bill from the current bout of flooding in NSW, Victoria and other states was expected to be in the billions of dollars and was likely to exceed the $3 billion set aside in the budget for natural disaster recovery.

He added that he believed stronger planning laws were needed to stop building in disaster-prone areas.

"All of us can see past development decisions that have been approved by different governments, which we all now shake our heads about," Senator Watt said.

"There's a real appetite to get moving on this, it's something that's been in the too-hard basket for too long and we're all literally paying the price of that now."

He said the NSW government was leading the work on changing planning laws for consideration by national cabinet.