House debates

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Questions without Notice

Natural Disasters

2:01 pm

Photo of Phillip ThompsonPhillip Thompson (Herbert, Liberal National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister update the House on how the Morrison government has been providing assistance to communities in North Queensland dealing with the effects of damaging floods and on what communities in other areas of the country now affected by bushfires can expect in support?

Photo of Scott MorrisonScott Morrison (Cook, Liberal Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Herbert for his question and the great work that he did during the course of those devastating floods, and the work that he continues to do with his local community as they rebuild.

I think the question is best answered by Michael Bulley from the Donut King outlet in Townsville, who's just one example of the many who have been assisted to get back on their feet after the devastating floods. Left uninsured and having just refurbished his shop, he was faced with paying for a second new shop fit-out. Michael has said quite openly that without the $50,000 grant his shop probably wouldn't have reopened, leaving his 12 staff out of a job. He is grateful for what he described as the life-changing support when he needed it most.

Then there's the $75,000 primary producer grant and the Spring Creek Barramundi farm, located just outside of Townsville, run by Brenda Pike, Tim Bade and Simon Osborne. That grant has assisted them to rebuild and get staff back to work. The floods cut off their roads, blew out the pine walls, collapsed the roof of their processing room and eroded their production ponds. They said that being able to access these funds 'really helped us get back underway as quickly as possible and helped to minimise some of the financial hardship felt after the disaster'.

The government responded quickly when it came to the floods in North Queensland. We've made over $3.3 billion available to assist people, businesses and communities recover from the floods. Over $118 million was provided and paid to 96,000 individuals in disaster recovery payments and allowances. Over $232 million was paid to the Queensland government under our Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements for the provision of immediate assistance, including immediate grants and loans and mental health support.

The North Queensland Livestock Industry Recovery Agency is driving delivery of assistance to our farmers. Over $18 million has been approved in grants to help farmers with restocking, replanting and rebuilding. And $86 million has been paid to over 1,600 farmers under the $75,000 primary producer grants, and $8 million has been paid to around 600 small businesses under the $50,000 small business grants program.

Elsewhere in the country now, in Queensland and New South Wales, more Australians are impacted by natural disasters. Nine houses have been destroyed, and a further seven have been damaged in north-eastern New South Wales by fires. Seventeen houses have been destroyed in Queensland, and another 86 houses have been damaged. Our government is supporting both the New South Wales and Queensland governments through the jointly funded Commonwealth-State Disaster Funding Recovery Arrangements. Assistance under these arrangements has been activated in seven local government areas in New South Wales—Armidale, Clarence Valley, Glen Innes, Inverell, Tenterfield, Uralla and Walcha—and two in Queensland: Scenic Rim and Southern Downs. They can expect the same support that we were able to provide so quickly and swiftly to the people of Queensland in the floods. We'll also be there for those affected by fires.