Byrne is busy making sure people do not fall through cracks
ROCKHAMPTON MP Bill Byrne's first week as a State Minister began with the biggest scandal in greyhound racing history and ended with arguably the most severe natural disaster ever to hit Central Queensland.
But rather than being in the spotlight this week, Mr Byrne has kept a lower profile.
Mr Byrne yesterday rejected any criticism about his behind the scenes role, saying he had deliberately kept out of the media unless he had some value to add.
"The leadership role in counter disaster operations lies with the mayors," he said.
"If I'm not adding value in a time of crisis, then my job is in the background to make the lumps go away… both as a local member and as a minister."
The Minister for Agriculture, Sport and Recreation and Racing said since Cyclone Marcia, he had been working flat out across the region gathering data to have the disaster elevated from Category B to Category C.
"We need to build a profile that justifies Category C declarations," he said.
Mr Byrne is "absolutely confident" he can move the classification up one level to Category C - and he said Category D was a possibility.
"There's no disagreement between myself and (Federal Agriculture Minister) Barnaby Joyce or the Prime Minister and the Premier, but to make these declarations you have to have the data," he said.
"That's been a big enterprise to find out exactly what's been damaged. Even defining the boundaries has been a drama in itself… after Yasi the boundaries weren't accurate, and you can imagine the grief that caused."
The application for assistance for agricultural producers is 15 pages long and Mr Byrne said he was very conscious people did not want to jump through mountains of red tape.
He said outreach workers would call, make an appointment and go out to fill out forms for them.
"That's the kind of interaction we're working on with individual property owners… and to make sure no-one falls through the cracks," he said.