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MORRISON LEAVES CQ IN THE LURCH IN DISASTER SEASON

January 12, 2022

SENATOR MURRAY WATT
SHADOW MINISTER FOR DISASTER MANAGEMENT
SHADOW MINISTER FOR NORTHERN AUSTRALIA
LABOR SENATOR FOR QUEENSLAND


MORRISON LEAVES CQ IN THE LURCH IN DISASTER SEASON

I hope all in Central Queensland enjoyed a good festive season and feel a bit recharged for the year ahead.

As we all know, we’re now deep into disaster season. Already, this summer has given us floods, heatwaves, bushfires and cyclones. 

In the last week alone, Central Queensland battled extreme temperatures, the Far North was pummeled by another cyclone and we saw the tragic loss of life and property in the Wide Bay and Burnett regions as they were swallowed by flood waters, especially in Maryborough. 

And all with more floods and cyclones to come, courtesy of La Niña.

All this means a growing list of Aussies battling the slow road to disaster recovery. Sadly, they’re being let down by a Federal Government that promises a lot, but never delivers.

Before Christmas I inspected the flood damage through the Banana Shire, in places like Baralaba and Goovigen. Already flood waters were up and more heavy rain followed.

What struck me was the huge effort that local councils, emergency service workers and residents were making, to keep their roads open and their communities safe.

If only that effort was matched by our Federal Government. 

You’d assume they’d be more prepared for this disaster season, given the tragedy of Black Summer. You’d think Prime Minister Scott Morrison would want to get ahead of things, given what happened when he headed off to Hawaii and told Australians he didn’t hold a hose.

Instead we have another classic example of Scott Morrison making big announcements and not delivering.

For well over two years, he has sat on a massive war chest that he promised would help disaster victims and protect us from future events.

The Emergency Response Fund was announced by the Morrison Government in April 2019. They told us this $4 billion fund would pay for up to $200 million per year in disaster recovery and prevention to repair past damage and prevent it in the future.

Surprise, surprise. As we enter our third disaster season since that announcement, there’s not a single project to show for it.

So far just $17 million has been released. Not one disaster prevention project has been completed. Not a single dollar released for disaster recovery.

Even worse, by keeping this money in the bank, Scott Morrison’s Government has earned itself over $750 million in interest - over forty times what it’s paid out!

This idle fund has now ballooned to $4.7 billion. It’s helping the Government’s bottom line when it should be helping disaster-prone communities.

Imagine the flood levees, communications improvements, road repairs and other disaster recovery and prevention projects that could have been built, to protect Central Queensland this disaster season. 

Instead, we’ve got another broken promise from Scott Morrison and the LNP. It seems even disaster victims aren’t safe from our Prime Minister’s lies.

Australians shouldn’t have to pay the price for a Prime Minister who never plans ahead. They shouldn’t be put at risk by a Prime Minister who doesn’t deliver on his promises. 

With another disaster season underway, it’s time this Prime Minister and his local MPs stepped up – Central Queensland lives and livelihoods depend on it.

This opinion piece was first published in CQ Today on Wednesday, 12 January 2022.

A FAIR GO FOR AUSTRALIA