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Cyclone Debbie recovery costs to hit Queensland budget bottom line

By Chris O'Brien, Tuesday April 18, 2017 - 17:13 EST
ABC image
Damage from the cyclone affected areas from the Whitsundays to the NSW border. - ABC

The recovery from Cyclone Debbie will cost so much it will dominate the Queensland budget in June, Treasurer Curtis Pitt has warned.

Mr Pitt said it was too early to put a figure on the financial impact of the category four storm that crossed the north Queensland coast late in March, but previous early estimates put it in the billions of dollars.

"I think it is something that will of course dominate the budget. We have been thrown a significant curve ball," Mr Pitt said.

The tropical cyclone and subsequent flooding affected communities from the Whitsundays to the New South Wales border.

"We must of course as a government respond on behalf of those communities and work with them to ensure they can get back on their feet as quickly as possible," Mr Pitt said.

"It will be a critical piece of the budget."

Mr Pitt said he could no longer guarantee a surplus, despite the mid-year update in December predicting the budget would be more than $2 billion in the black.

That improved forecast was largely due to an upturn in coal royalties, which are now expected to be lower because of interruptions to exports from the cyclone and floods.

"It is absolutely my intention to post a surplus, [but] of course we've been dealt the cards we have, so we have to work with those," Mr Pitt said.

"So we have a range of inputs, including looking at what the damage bill will be, and what we will expect by way of downturns."

Major losses tipped for coal industry

Mining operator Aurizon said it expected to lose up to $115 million as a result of Cyclone Debbie.

However it said three of the four systems that make up the Central Queensland Coal Network (CQCN) were now operating with restricted conditions and reduced capacity.

Two lines that connect to the Port of Gladstone have reopened, while the Newlands system to Abbot Point started running again last week.

Aurizon said its Goonyella coal system, which connects to the Hay Point and Dalrymple bay coal terminals, would take five weeks to repair.


© ABC 2017

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