Tuesday, 12 February 2019
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources. Will the minister update the House on the devastating impact that the recent monsoonal rains have had on graziers in north-west and northern Queensland and their families? And what assistance is the government providing to give immediate support to these families who are in so much desperate need?
I thank the honourable member for his question and his interest in these devastating floods. I visited the areas affected last week and saw the sheer magnitude of an inland sea some 35 kilometres wide. I witnessed the stock that were stranded in that inland sea. I witnessed the stock that got out of that sea and perished because of the cold weather that came after the monsoon. I was honoured to visit a couple of farmers who'd lost everything—all their breeding stock—and who had fought to keep those livestock alive during drought, and it was the last symbol of their defiance of that drought to see them all gone. And the stoicism of these people: for them to say that there was some poor bugger worse off than them is something I'll never forget. They are great Australians. In these times we come together as Australians, and we come together at all levels of government—leadership from both the state and the federal government.
I'm proud to say that both the Premier of Queensland and the Prime Minister have agreed to make sure that every adult within those farming households gets $1,000, and $400 for every child, to make sure that they have dignity and respect and to make sure that they have bread and butter on the table. With leadership, the Premier and the Prime Minister have also agreed to increase category C funding from $25,000 to $75,000, because of the sheer devastation of infrastructure as a result of this amount of water. It's also about making sure that we look after those communities, those shires, in putting $1 million into those communities to help them rebuild the key infrastructure, to rebuild those communities' connectivity.
Another important aspect of this is mental health. Proudly, we're investing $3 million to make sure there's someone there to talk to. The grief that will come in the ensuing days and weeks is something that cannot be underestimated. It's important that we act together. It's important when you hear about the euphoria that came with the rains in the initial few days. Given the devastation of three or four more days that wiped out these people's livelihoods, you understand the grief that will come. It's not confined just to the adults; it's also in the faces of those children. We heard about Madison and Wyatt Hall, who saw that on their mother's face after she came back and inspected her property and found 800 of her breeders dead—the devastation of that family. I say to you, Madison and Wyatt: help is on the way; please do not worry. This parliament, this nation, will help you.
On indulgence—Nothing invites bipartisanship in this place more than the impacts of natural disaster on any part of the Australian community. Of course, I join with the minister in his expressions of sympathy and concern for all those who have been affected, particularly those in the agriculture sector. And, of course, the opposition stands with the government as one, ready to do anything we can to assist those who need help.