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Funding boost for disaster agency as bushfires loom

Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS

A major funding boost for the NSW Reconstruction Authority will help emergency personnel get ahead of natural disasters as another bad bushfire season looms.

Premier Chris Minns has announced a $115 million spending increase for the authority in the 2023/24 budget, taking its funding to more than $321 million over four years.

It comes as the NSW Rural Fire Service warns of a high-risk bushfire season ahead, with only about 24 per cent of planned hazard reduction burns done due to wet weather.

Mr Minns described the funds as a "significant investment in front of a natural disaster".

"Traditionally, the way business has been done in this state and every other state in Australia is that you wait for a natural disaster, then you come in and try to pick up the pieces," he said while visiting Nowra on the south coast.

"We know more and more that if you invest money beforehand you can save money in the long run and you can have a significant impact on lives and property.

"That's what we're trying to do with the Reconstruction Authority in NSW, put the money in early so that there can be enhanced preparedness for natural disasters."

The authority was set up in 2022, when the state's former disaster recovery agency, Resilience NSW, was disbanded following criticism of its response to the Northern Rivers floods.

Its remit includes adaptation, mitigation and preparedness for natural disasters, as well as supporting post-disaster clean-ups and temporary housing for those affected.

Emergency Services Minister Jihad Dib said the funding would make first responders' jobs safer by reducing risks and improving planning.

In June, the government announced the Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation, the body that manages flood rebuild in the region, would be rolled into the new authority.

The government says there have been more than 60 natural disasters in NSW that have cost the state about $5 billion since 2019.

The authority is due to complete disaster mitigation and adaptation plans for the state.