Australians will be paying higher taxes to pay for the recovery from this disastrous flood season. When you're the relatively small central government of a small country that's prone to big disasters, there are only so many ways you can self-insure against these things.
I think about how this would play out in the US. People would scream about the hardship from the disaster. The governor and president would promise relief, and by and large all those unexpected expenses would simply be piled into the deficit.
That happens, in part, because the US Federal government is so huge and opaque. It deals with such colossal numbers that even its deficits convey a liminal suggestion of boundless capacity. The mysteries of managing the world's reserve currency, for example, just can't be explained by analogy to your family's budget.
Aussies just don't see their government that way. They know how small it is, and they can see that its budgetary choices are like of a household at a larger scale.
This is part of why I'm so obsessed with tools that make big public choices comprehensible, like the Los Angeles Times "balance the California budget yourself" tool, or, in my business, network planning games. It's a reason why I don't mind if the California budget crisis leads to functions being pushed down to the local government level, as long as these functions scale to the local government boundaries and as long those governments can go to their voters for the funding they need. One thing we've seen clearly in Calfornia is that people will vote for taxes for things that are important to them, and that they're more likely to support taxes that are kept close to home and devoted to a specific purpose.
People have got to see the choices. They've got to understand government budgets on analogy to their family's budgets. I don't see another way.