Thursday, 18 June 2020
Questions without Notice
Australian Natural Disasters
I thank the member for his question. It's an important question, because I think it gives us as a nation an opportunity to reflect on what we've endured over the last 18 months outside of COVID. We've had an enduring drought—a cancer that has left no state or territory untouched—that spread from Queensland to right across the nation. We had north-west Queensland floods 18 months ago. We had the fires of this summer that our nation had to endure. Many properties have been lost, livelihoods have been damaged and, tragically, lives have also been lost. But the nation has, with conviction and pride, continued to look to the future.
The federal government has been with people through the drought with our three pillared National Drought Policy. The first pillar—the here and now—is over $440 million in farm household allowance put into farmers' pockets so that they're able to put bread and butter on their families' kitchen tables. Over $500 million in infrastructure will help those farming families not only preserve the jobs in the communities that support them but also create new jobs and build greater resilience in those communities.
We're the first government, under our third pillar, to look to the future. The $5 billion Future Drought Fund looks to build resilience and give our farmers the tools to equip them to face up to future droughts. We went to the North Queensland floods where many farmers lost their livelihoods overnight. $300 million of the $3.3 billion has been put out to support them through restocking and replanting grants, and there is $400,000 to match farmers to replant and restock. There was $119 million in immediate relief payments to be able to put money into their pockets as well.
For the fires of this summer, $2 billion has been set aside to help in the recovery. We estimated $500 million of that would be spent by 30 June. We're now estimating that $1 billion will have gone out of the government's bank account and into the bank accounts of those people that need it most. There was over $240 million in immediate relief as well to make sure we supported those families in their time of need.
In fact, across those three disasters, the Australian taxpayer has stood with those people most affected and put out over $800 million in immediate support and relief to help those families get through the tragedies that they have faced. We've continued to look to the future through the Future Drought Fund and the Bushfire Recovery Fund. It's important that we as a nation reflect on what we've endured and the fact that we've been able to endure it with such courage and conviction, that we look to future, that we can be the greatest nation on earth and that, when those in this country are in an hour of need, each one of us stands with them shoulder to shoulder.