Cyclone-devastated Queensland communities have been short-changed by the Turnbull LNP Government by its callous refusal to match the Palaszczuk Government’s $110 million commitment to recovery funding.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the Turnbull Government’s Friday night advice to approve a total package of $58.6 million of a requested $220 million to help communities devastated by Severe Tropical Cyclone (STC) Debbie was a massive blow to local communities, businesses and residents.
The Premier said it was unconscionable that it took over two months to inform Queensland communities they would get such paltry assistance.
“My Government committed in May to providing its $110 million share to help the State’s communities impacted by Severe Tropical Cyclone Debbie get back on their feet and rebuild stronger and more disaster resilient infrastructure,” she said.
“Instead, the Turnbull Government has insulted Queensland, approving a total package of $58.6 million with their share amounting to an embarrassing $29.3 million – just 0.006% of the total Federal Budget.
“Let me be clear – the proposals put forward by Queensland were in collaboration with local councils in the most heavily impacted regions.
“The Prime Minister has now abandoned these communities. He was happy to visit the devastated area with the media in tow, but now – in the long, hard haul of recovery – he has walked away from thousands of Queenslanders.”
“Queensland Federal LNP MPs this week said they wanted to be ‘Team Queensland’. If they want to stand up for Queensland, they should demand the Prime Minister rethink this callous decision at the LNP conference in Brisbane this weekend.”
Deputy Premier and Minister responsible for the Queensland Reconstruction Authority Jackie Trad said the decision was devastating for Queensland communities in recovery.
“It’s a slap in the face for the council areas that copped the full brunt of the cyclone and flooding,” Ms Trad said.
“One of the packages requested was a $135 million Local Council Package – the Commonwealth has approved just $1.51 million, one per cent of what was requested.
“We asked $60 million for Rockhampton’s Flood Levee, the Commonwealth approved none of it.
“For the Whitsundays we wanted $40 million for the Proserpine airport, again nothing was approved.
“Also in the Whitsundays we requested $18.7 million for reconstruction of Shute Harbour, zero funding.
“Historically, the Commonwealth has agreed to fund Category D for projects that Councils nominated as important to the social, structural, environmental and economic recovery of their communities.
“There are no guidelines stating what projects would be eligible or ineligible and no requirement that only damaged infrastructure can be funded.
“This decision amounts to shameful neglect of impacted communities and is a departure from the collaborative nature of Category D negotiations that have occurred by numerous governments in the past.”
Ms Trad said Queensland would continue to lobby the Commonwealth to reconsider funding these local council projects that are so important to their communities, including Shute Harbour.
“After months of speculation and politicisation by the Commonwealth in relation to the response to STC Debbie, Queensland and its communities have been short-changed by an out of touch Turnbull Government.”
Under the NDRRA Category D proposal, the Commonwealth and State jointly fund the package 50/50.