Flood levy outrage
TOWNSVILLE ratepayers will have to bear the brunt of disaster insurance payments for the city thanks to an amendment to the flood levy made to appease indep e n d e n t S e n a t o r N i c k Xenophon.
Under the new scheme, if a state does not have appropriate disaster insurance, they will not be able to receive the maximum Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements they were previously entitled to.
The agreement will force the states and territories to take out insurance, create their own disaster funds or take equivalent measures.
With the support of all the other crossbench senators, the levy will become a reality from July, affecting most Australians earning more than $ 50,000.
Acting Premier Paul Lucas has slammed the decision, saying it will force states and local governments to fork out billions of dollars to insure themselves against disasters.
D e p u t y M a y o r D a v i d Crisafulli said the situation was ludicrous.
‘‘ It is absolutely horrific to think that a government would make a decision on something like this without even taking the time to find out what these costs would mean for Queenslanders,’’ he said.
‘‘ Today’s decision shows just how out of touch Canberra is with people trying to make ends meet and pay their bills.’’
Mr Lucas said he was glad the levy would pass but criticised the Federal Government and Senator Xenophon, saying they had delivered a ‘‘ massive kick in the guts’’ to Queensland taxpayers.
‘‘ What do you say to ratepayers in towns like Gympie, or Dalby or Emerald that flood all the time,’’ he said.
‘‘ But under this proposal, they’re going to have to have insurance. ‘‘ It will send them broke.’’ The State Government is currently seeking a quote to insure its assets, including roads, against future natural disasters.
But Mr Lucas said Queensland would struggle to find an appropriate deal because of its size, population and regular floods and cyclones.
‘‘ Make no mistake, insurance of this type, if you can get it . . . is delivered by international insurance conglomerates that do it to make a profit,’’ he said.
‘‘ This doesn’t just mean the state will now have to pay massive premiums to overseas insurance companies, but local councils will too.’’
He said the government was still analysing the details of the deal but questioned what would happen to councils who couldn’t afford insurance.
Local Government Association of Queensland chief executive Greg Hallam said c o u n c i l s woul d f a c e a n immense financial burden in finding a way to cover about $ 70 billion in assets.
‘‘ Chances are many councils will simply be unable to afford to shoulder such a burden.’’
He said the move could only mean ‘‘ astronomical increases in costs’’.