State accused of ‘rorting’ cyclone relief
NEW papers show Federal Government officials rejected the majority of the Queensland Government’s pleas for aid because it believed the applications were not eligible – even saying the attempts were in part “a blatant rort on the Australian Government’s generous” aid policies.
On Monday officials said they would reconsider parts of the state’s Category D application for Tropical Cyclone Debbie funding, but again made clear success would require a raft more proof the applications were eligible.
The documents from the Justice Department show the Federal Government all but backed out of supporting five major projects in the wake of the cyclone.
They state there was “no information about how the (Whitsunday) airport was directly damaged by Cyclone Debbie”, and claim the Airlie Beach Foreshore Redevelopment was a new infrastructure project.
The documents say that “while initial estimates indicate that there is $8.8M (in) damage to the (Shute Harbour) marina, it is insured. So what are they planning? To be handed $8.8M from insurers and then another $8.8M from Australian taxpayers”?
The Whitsunday council had applied for these projects to stimulate their struggling local economy where businesses remained closed more than three months after the cyclone.
“(These) were part of an iconic infrastructure project which helps us rebuild our region and provide an economic stimulus,” Mayor Andrew Willcox said.
Cr Willcox admitted there was an insurance claim for the marina but said it would cost more to build a new strong marina that would stand up against the next cyclone than it would to build the same standard.
And as for the money, he said whatever money wasn’t spent including the insurance claim would be returned to the Federal and State governments.