Tuesday, 12 February 2019
Statements by Members
Most of last week I was helping constituents in Townsville and Giru in the wake of flooding that caused widespread devastation. In times of great adversity we see the real spirit and character of the community shine through. That community looks for a similar spirit and strength of character to come from the institutions they rely on at these times. The majority of banks have stepped up to the plate, putting forward support packages for victims in Townsville and pledging support for cattle farmers in the west. Insurance companies on the other hand look like digging in for protracted contesting of claims and stringing out payments, as we saw after Cyclone Debbie two years ago. Tricky wording in the fine print—distinguishing between floodwater and stormwater—could see hundreds of claims rejected.
The Insurance Council of Australia is planning two insurance forums to provide claim guidance, but the first forum is two weeks away and the second is not until the 25th of next month. People need to get their claims sorted now so that they can rebuild their lives as soon as possible. It should not take more than 18 months to finalise claims, like it did for the people in the Whitsundays after Cyclone Debbie.
Given Townsville has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country and a depressed housing construction market, we expect to see local tradies, local businesses and local workers given priority for reconstruction work. The Insurance Council has already indicated that this may not be the case, but I'm going to be keeping an eye on them and doing what I can to ensure that all of these issues are addressed in the weeks and months ahead, and they need to know it.