By SUSAN McDONALD | QUEENSLAND SENATOR
AS THE long cleanup continues in Queensland’s Gulf Country, serious questions must be asked of both the Federal and State Governments and how they rendered assistance to flood victims.
People affected are angry, frustrated and hurt.
This is, in effect, the “Forgotten Flood”.
As one victim said to me about the lack of Government response: “Cattle don’t vote”.
The lack of interest and support from the federal and state governments is shocking, and it is frankly distressing.
In opposition, Albanese and his Emergency Management spokesman Murray Watt were full of advice on the speed of response and what the Coalition government should do – all advice they have now completely forgotten.
When State and Federal Labor released emergency relief funding for the Gulf floods, victims were being knocked back because Government payment systems didn’t recognise Outback station addresses. How could this have happened?
Owners of the Tirranna Springs Roadhouse 34 kilometres south-west of Burketown, Jil and Tim Wilson, have lost their home and their business. The fences are flattened or missing. The generators and pumps are gone. Their home, business and all their hard work of the past five years lies covered in mud.
Horses, pigs, poddy calves and poultry drowned. Now the Wilsons are worried about the insurance company paying the $3.2 million dollar reconstruction bill.
At Urandangi, the floodwaters swept the town away. There are stories like this right across the top of North Queensland and into the Northern Territory.
Neighbours have used heavy equipment to build levees and come to the aid of others, and communities have come together.
There are people who have been plucked out of the waters by mustering helicopters.
I remember when Minister Watt complained about private choppers – instead of Army ones – having to rescue people in the Lismore floods last year, but no complaints from him this time.
In 2019, when the north-west monsoon event happened, disaster relief payments were made quickly.
The Prime Minister came and the Defence Force was called in. The Army choppers dropped fodder to save stock, and 150 Australian Defence Force members were involved.
The Coalition pledged $3.1 billion in recovery aid all up for North and North West Queensland.
In the future, we have to start thinking about what the infrastructure requirements are.
We need better culverts. We need the Burke and Wills Roadhouse and the adjoining airstrip sealed, and we need wet season drops of 5,000 litres of diesel and 5,000 litres of jet fuel so we have a launching pad for recovery.
The importance of Northern Australia must be reflected in this government’s policy-making and planning, and I’m afraid it is sadly lacking.
The Northern Australia Minister couldn’t even be bothered to comment to the media about these floods.
It’s sad that this Labor government spent years politicising natural disasters, and yet when the responsibility lies with them they’re missing in action and full of excuses.
Maybe Anthony Albanese should heed his own Minister’s words in Lismore last year: “…no more excuses, no more obfuscation, no more blaming the states, just taking responsibility and delivering.”