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10.03.22

Government’s extra disaster payment ignores Tweed, Ballina and Byron

Some of you were critical of my comments yesterday concerning the Prime Minister, who seemed to have only just realised that the flood damage is not a national emergency, but a national disaster.

“National” because we are all our brothers’ keeper.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister was in Lismore.

He is now under attack because he didn’t make himself available to speak to flood victims facing desperate circumstances.

How desperate?

Well, in many areas, telecommunications are non-existent, except for texting in some locations.

Local rescue resources are overwhelmed.

There are isolated residences everywhere in need of food, water and essential medication.

Volunteers have been navigating dangerous water flows with logs, furniture, shipping containers and dead animals.

There is an evacuation centre at Murwillumbah.

It wasn’t mentioned yesterday.

I understand the hospitals there had nothing. The aged care homes had nothing.

And the further the volunteers went, the more they realised they were without food, water and essential medication.

Rescuers themselves are suffering from shock and emotional stress.

The surfing superstar, Mick Fanning, who has done fabulous volunteer rescue work said, “I can only speak for myself… on Sunday I pretty much just curled up in a home and cried all day… it is going to be a long road back mentally, physically and emotionally.”

Well, what about financially?

Yesterday, the Prime Minister declared disaster relief for Lismore, Richmond Valley and the Clarence Valley LGAs.

The total population in those areas is about 120,000.

So far, they have had payments of $385 million.

And the Government was boasting about it.

That runs out at about $3,000 per person.

And again, the announcement was made of $1,000 per adult and $400 per child for “another two weeks”; and the Government boasting about “tripling the amount of cash”.

No mention of Tweed Shire, of 108,000 people; Ballina Shire, 40,000; Byron Bay, 32,000.

No mention of the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley.

No mention of the Northern Beaches.

No mention of Queensland where 15,000 homes and properties have been flooded in Brisbane alone, and 13 people have died.

Where do these people fit in?

If, as I said yesterday, people have lost their homes, their assets, their personal possessions, their businesses, their livelihoods, their self-esteem and their children have lost everything, including their education, how would we feel, how would the members of government feel if they were amongst those facing suffering day and night?

Who are the bureaucrats in Canberra who advised the Prime Minister that there would be “$25 million for emergency relief, food relief and financial counselling services”; “$7 million to expand the Commonwealth’s business recovery and resilience service”; “$210 million to help the clean up”; “$1 million to impacted councils to assist their social and economic needs.”

As the kids used to say in primary school, this is like peeing in the ocean.

No wonder people are angry.

Taxpayers should be angry.

We pay taxes so these people can be looked after.

This is the same Government which found $90,000 million in payments to businesses who laid off staff due to the economic impact of Coronavirus.

$90 billion.

But an analysis by the Parliamentary Business Office showed that $13 billion went to firms which increased their revenue, firms which increased their turnover; and that the Morrison government also gave money to profitable overseas-owned companies, leading to tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars going to offshore owners.

Yet this is the response to our fellow Australians facing flood devastation.

Bureaucrats advising the Government in Canberra should be booted out; and a government mad enough to accept that advice is proving it knows nothing about the gravity of the flood problem.

I said yesterday this was the bushfires revisited, but even worse.

And I asked, “Are the victims of the floods now going to be subjected to the same Government indifference and abandonment?”

Sadly, on yesterday’s performance, the answer is an emphatic yes.

And as a post-script, let me say this.

To those arguing that people shouldn’t be living in flood-prone areas or, as Shane Stone put it, “under gum trees”, the simple truth is people are living there because they can’t afford to live on the hill with the view.