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Cyclone Debbie: Federal Government offers $29m, not $110m in recovery payments

By Francis Tapim and Kym Agius, Saturday July 15, 2017 - 14:33 EST
ABC licensed image
One of the Whitsunday Islands' major ports, Shute Harbour, was damaged in the cyclone. - ABC licensed

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has abandoned Queensland in its time of need after Cyclone Debbie, the State Government says, by refusing to pay tens of millions requested as disaster funding.

Queensland had applied for $220 million in Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA) funding two months ago, with the Federal Government required to pay half.

However, it has been announced that the Commonwealth put the repair bill at $58.6 million, paying about $29 million of that.

It has escalated a long-standing feud, with the Federal Government accusing Queensland of unfairly applying for infrastructure funding for which it was not eligible, adding that the $220 million application was not worth the paper it was written on.

Deputy Premier Jackie Trad said the $29 million offer was a slap in the face for communities trying to recover.

"A kick in the guts," Ms Trad said.

"When Cyclone Debbie hit, Malcolm Turnbull was quite happy to come up and was happy to take selfies.

"Well these communities are wanting Malcolm Turnbull to do more than just take selfies.

"We are not just going to roll over and give in to what is incredibly shabby behaviour."

'Happy to reconsider $220m request if it's backed up with facts'

Minister Assisting the Prime Minister Michael Keenan said the Queensland Government tried to get the Commonwealth to provide $161 million in funding for projects that they knew were ineligible.

Information has not been provided on how they were damaged by the cyclone, or the projects have been applied for through the wrong channel.

That included $10 million for the Blue Water Trail and Queens Park extension, $40 million for the Whitsunday Coast airport enhancement project, and $60 million for the South Rockhampton flood levee.

"Despite numerous requests for impact information to support their $220 million application, the Queensland Government failed to back up their claims," Mr Keenan said.

"The Labor Palaszczuk Government has tried to use this disaster for cheap political point scoring.

"Of course, the Commonwealth Government would be more than happy to reconsider any component of the application, if the Palaszczuk Government does its job and proves that it meets the ... requirements."

Mr Turnbull said the NDRRA is not designed to fund new infrastructure.

"I can assure you it's been very appropriately dealt with," he said.

"It is not a ... slush fund, to fund a whole lot of new infrastructure that is not the result of the natural disaster."


© ABC 2017

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