Queensland Flood Emergency and Recovery (14/01/2011)

An-aerial-photo-of-the-flooded-Queensland-town-of-Eromanga_300w.jpgA message from the Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, concerning the Queensland Flood Emergency and Recovery.

IT HAS BEEN brought to the attention of the Attorney-General’s Office that some Electorate Offices have received a hoax email, claiming the Commonwealth Government is only providing $1 million in assistance to help victims of the Queensland floods crisis.

I am writing to let you know this is email is completely false.

Dozens of communities across Queensland are experiencing some of the worst floods on record and the Commonwealth is providing extensive financial assistance and support – through disaster payments and grants to individuals and through funding to rebuild community infrastructure, such as roads, bridges and schools.

While it’s too early to know what the overall damage bill will be, it’s fair to say the contribution from the Commonwealth Government to the emergency and recovery from the floods crisis will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

We are putting money in the pockets of people who need it right now. We will provide funding for the long term recovery of these communities.

The Commonwealth Government is offering a range of assistance including:

Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment of $1000 per eligible adult, $400 per eligible child – available from Centrelink. This payment is designed to assist people in need, including:

people who’ve lost their homes or had major damage;

people who’ve been evacuated and forced to spend more than 24 hours away from their homes;

who’ve been disconnected from key utilities for 48 hours, who’ve suffered major damage to their homes.

The Disaster Income Recovery Subsidy for those who have experienced a loss of income as a direct result of the flooding and are not currently receiving, or eligible for, any other income support payment. The subsidy is a fortnightly payment of up to the maximum rate of existing Newstart Allowance for a period of 13 weeks.

There is a range of other criteria that may make residents eligible for this payment so people should visit or call Centrelink’s Emergency Assistance Hotline on 180 2266 (between 8am – 8pm QLD time) to test their eligibility. More information is available via the Centrelink website.

As at 11 January 2011 nearly 14,647 claims for AGDRP have been granted since 31 December 2010 – putting around $18.6 million in the hands of people most in need.

Other joint Commonwealth/Queensland Government assistance is available under the Natural Disaster Recovery and Relief Arrangements (NDRRA). Under these arrangements, the State Government determines the Local Government Areas eligible for assistance, the levels of payments and the types of assistance available in each area. Currently 49 of 73 LGAs in Queensland have been declared natural disaster zones, making them eligible for assistance under NDRRA.

Joint Commonwealth/QLD Government assistance varies between LGAs, but includes:

Personal Hardship Assistance (available from the Queensland Dept of Communities www.communities.qld.gov.au)

Emergency Assistance grants - a grant of $170 per person, up to a maximum of $780 for a family of five or more is available

Essential Household Contents grants - assistance of up to $1660 for individuals and $4980 for families

Repairs to Dwelling grants - Assistance of up to $10 250 for individuals and $13 800 for families can be provided

Small Businesses and Primary Producer assistance (available from the QRAA here)

Grants of up to $25,000 for small businesses and primary producers for clean up and recovery

Concessional interest rate loans of up to $250,000 for small business operators and primary producers, as well as freight subsidies of up to $5,000

Funding to rebuild communities, including funding for the reconstruction of essential public infrastructure such as roads, bridges & schools. This is funded on a 50/50 basis with the State Government, then 75/25 (with the Commonwealth paying the larger portion) once certain thresholds are met

Funding to cover the cost of counter disaster operations.

More than 150 Local Government Areas across five states – Queensland, New South Wales, Western Australia, Victoria and South Australia – are currently receiving joint Commonwealth/State Government assistance under the NDRRA arrangements.

Assistance and payments vary between areas, as determined by the State Government. The Disaster Recovery Income Subsidy is also available in these LGAs currently receiving NDRRA assistance.

For more information about assistance that’s available in your state, visit www.disasterassist.gov.au

Robert McClelland

Commonwealth Attorney-General