Political battle erupts as CQ farmers wait for crucial funding

Flood water Depot Hill.
Flood water Depot Hill. Allan Reinikka ROK070417aflood19

ACTING Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has directed government staff to work through the Easter holiday to ensure there are no delays in handling disaster funding applications.

Capricornia MP Michelle Landry said the Federal Government was committed to activate disaster assistance as quickly as possible.

A political battle of words has erupted over delays in delivering funding to those impacted from recent natural disasters.

Member for Capricornia, Michelle Landry.
Member for Capricornia, Michelle Landry. Chris Ison ROK070916ccarpark4

Ms Landry went on the offensive on Thursday.

"Late last night (Wednesday) the state government finally started sending through the assessment that will allow for the release of Cat C funding,” Ms Landry said.

"To date this has included Logan, Gold Coast, Whitsunday, Mackay, Isaac and Livingstone LGAs.

"They are sending the information through in dribs and drabs and this is being assessed immediately for a quick turnaround.

"We cannot say why the Queensland Government is taking this approach.”

She said when Cyclone Marcia hit the region the Palaszczuk Government had only recently been elected and still learning the process, so there were delays.

"However this time around I can only assume that they either still don't know what they are doing, or are deliberately delaying so they can point the finger at the Liberal National Party,” Ms Landry said.

But, Queensland's Agriculture Minister and Member for Rockhampton Bill Byrne was urging the Australian Government to "cut the red tape to make these additional relief measures available to those who need it most”.

"The Palaszczuk Government has provided required business cases to the Commonwealth Government to support its request for Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA) Category C assistance to further support primary producers,” Mr Byrne said in a statement.

"The business cases support the provision of recovery grants of up to $25,000 for primary producers in Queensland's most heavily impacted communities.

"Yesterday the Commonwealth were provided with business cases requesting grants for primary producers in Mackay and the Whitsundays and for portions of Central Highlands, Isaac, Livingstone, Woorabinda, Logan, Scenic Rim and the Gold Coast.

"That covers primary producers in the three regions impacted by the prolonged Severe Tropical Cyclone Debbie event - North Queensland, Central Queensland and South East Queensland.

"The Commonwealth's requirements are extremely complex and in the immediate aftermath many communities find it extremely difficult to interrupt their immediate clean up efforts to provide the detailed information our Federal counterparts require.”

Mr Byrne said previous governments had realised the impact these disasters had on communities and cut the red tape.

Rockhampton MP Bill Byrne.
Rockhampton MP Bill Byrne. Chloe Lyons

"The Commonwealth's current approach risks leaving vulnerable communities still taking stock, behind,” he said.

"However, despite the request just two days ago to relax its restrictions in this instance, the Turnbull Government prefers to leave our farmers and small business operators waiting while we jump through their hoops and reams of paperwork to tick its boxes.

"Queensland already gave its assurance that any applications for available grants would be assessed based on the thorough and robust processes we have in place to ensure disaster funding is only provided when it is eligible.”

The Queensland Reconstruction Authority was also working with the Department of Tourism, Major Events, Small Business and the Commonwealth Games to support the provision of Exceptional Circumstances Category C Recovery Grants for up to $25,000 for small businesses and non-profit organisations in impacted areas.

Further, the Queensland Reconstruction Authority had been working with the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services to develop a comprehensive business case for the proposed $20 million Community Recovery Fund which will be submitted today.

The Community Recovery Fund application incorporates a range of measures including community development positions in each local government area as well as operational funding to support community development activities, events and workshops that enable social and community reconnection as well as resilience and local capability development. 

Topics:  bill byrne funding michelle landry

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