Political row brewing as Federal disaster funds get approved
ALMOST two weeks after the Rockhampton region was ravaged by torrential rain and as flood levels continue to drop, the Federal Government has announced disaster relief funding for those affected.
Residents affected by ex-tropical cyclone Oswald and flooding from when the Fitzroy River burst its banks are now able to apply for disaster recovery payments of $1000 for each adult and $400 for each child.
Many in the community have been outraged by the length of time it took for the Federal Government to make the funding available.
But a spokesperson for Kirsten Livermore, the Member for Capricornia, said Ms Livermore had sought the funding as soon as she was asked.
"When the Rockhampton mayor contacted Kirsten at the beginning of this week with particular reference to areas in the Rockhampton region but outside her electorate of Capricornia, Kirsten immediately raised the matter with both the minister responsible and the Prime Minister's office to ensure the Rockhampton region was included in available disaster relief arrangements," the spokesperson said.
But Mayor Margaret Strelow said according to the act there was no need for Rockhampton Regional Council to apply.
She said the state and federal governments only required the council to fill in situation reports, which Cr Strelow said they did "faithfully every day".
"We've got a whole run of state and federal grants that we didn't apply for," Cr Strelow said.
Cr Strelow spoke with Ms Livermore about the worst-hit areas, Bajool, Mount Morgan and Stanwell, although they are in the electorate of Flynn, not Capricornia.
But Ms Livermore's spokesperson said she spoke with the ministers about the devastated areas anyway.
A spokesperson for Ken O'Dowd, the Member for Flynn, said it was clear the minister "sat on it" as Mr O'Dowd had been lobbying for funding since the flooding occurred.
Mr O'Dowd said the funding had been "a long time coming".
"I am extremely disappointed with how long it has taken to have these areas activated," Mr O'Dowd said.
Mark Dreyfus, the Minister for Emergency Management, yesterday morning told the ABC deciding whether regions were able to apply for the payments took a while to assess.
"Our agency is there assessing damage right across Queensland and other states," he said. "It relies heavily on state government and local councils' assessments."
Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment
- eligible residents can claim disaster recovery payments of $1000 for each adult and $400 for each child
- the easiest way to lodge a claim is online at humanservices.gov.au/disaster or by calling 180 22 66 from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week
- completed claim forms can also be lodged in person at a Commonwealth Department of Human Services service centre
- further information on AGDRP and other Australian Government Assistance is available online at disasterassist.gov.au