Thursday, 25 March 2021
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister please inform the House of the continued assistance the Morrison government is providing to flood affected areas of Australia, especially as these communities commence their recovery from the devastating floods?
I welcome the member for Berowra back to the chamber. He went to his electorate yesterday to provide that assistance. And to those other members who are not in this place, I thank them for the work that they're continuing to do—the member for Lindsay in particular. There are members opposite also who are not with us. The member for Berowra, amongst all of us, would be most upset by the news, as we discovered yesterday, of a man's body being discovered in floodwaters near Glenorie, which is in the member's electorate, and I know the member is incredibly saddened by that news. We also learned, sadly, soon afterwards that according to Queensland police a man's body was discovered in an upturned vehicle in floodwaters at Canungra, in the electorate of the Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport. We urge, again: if it's flooded, forget it. Don't go into those waters, on foot, in a vehicle or anything else.
The member for Berowra has relayed to me the extraordinary work that is occurring on the ground in his community, whether that's delivering groceries for families who have been isolated due to flooded roads, or the goods being donated by families from the Glenorie Public School. The member reminds me that, just like so many other affected communities—and this is occurring in his electorate and across New South Wales and across Queensland—people are helping each other and preparing for the hard work ahead when the waters recede, damage is assessed and the arduous task of the clean-up begins. State governments are commencing their damage assessments, and I want to thank premiers, whether in Queensland or New South Wales in particular, for the great work that their agencies are doing across their great states. These are highly professional, competent agencies—the world's best when it comes to assistance in relation to floods and so many other natural disasters.
We have a great advantage in having those capacities within our state governments. And where their resources are unable to deal with a matter then they are quick to refer that to the federal government, as indeed the New South Wales premier has today in relation to C&D assistance—what we've been anticipating and the works we've been putting in place with the defence forces to be able respond quickly to those arrangements. So, we are poised and we are moving already. The Australian Defence Force is in the process of deploying over 500 personnel to staging areas in Taree, Port Macquarie and Kempsey to assist the State Emergency Service to undertake activities including debris clearance, clearance of roads to facilitate access, and clearance of other flood and storm debris to support access to critical infrastructure and essential services—sandbagging and clean-up. We expect the ADF contribution to go to around 700 personnel. I can also update the House that $25 million and more is now being paid out by Services Australia, with over 22,000 phone calls—thousands of great public servants doing their job, taking those calls, providing that support. We stand with you.