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13th April 2017 1:56 AM
Flood waters recede at Hastings Deering. Flood waters recede at Hastings Deering. Allan Reinikka ROK100417aflood5

THE members for Capricornia and Keppel have become embroiled in a political row over funding for struggling Rockhampton region people who couldn't work during the floods.

Keppel MP Brittany Lauga today held a media conference calling on the Member for Capricornia, Michelle Landry, to stand up for her constituents and pressure the Minister for Justice Michael Keenan to activate Centrelink Disaster Recovery Allowance funding for Rockhampton and Livingstone.

But, Ms Landry's office fired back, saying Mrs Lauga should speak to Mark Ryan, the State Minister for Emergency Services, who would be able to confirm they were waiting on information on housing damage.

After The Morning Bulletin's enquiries to Mr Ryan's office, a spokesperson for the Queensland Reconstruction Authority this evening said activation of the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment (AGDRP) was a matter for the Australian Government and did not fall under Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA).

Several local government areas, including a number in Queensland, have already had the funding activated.

Mrs Lauga said the fact it hadn't been activated in Rockhampton and Livingstone was a slap in the face for those strugglers who couldn't work due to the floods.

She said she'd fielded dozens of enquiries from struggling casual workers who were among the estimated 2000 people who couldn't work during the floods.

With Easter just around the corner, she said it was time the Federal Government stood up for these workers.

"The Member for Capricornia says that this allowance is only activated 'where the impacts of a natural disaster are so severe that additional Australian Government support is required'," Mrs Lauga said.

"Well Ms Landry, the impacts of the Fitzroy flood were severe and local residents are in need of this support.

"I was advised today by the Queensland Reconstruction Authority that there is nothing stopping the Federal Government from activating the Centrelink Disaster Recovery Allowance for local workers affected by the flood.

"The Minister for Justice Michael Keenan can activate this Disaster Recovery Allowance for Rockhampton and Livingstone with a stroke of a pen."

She said she wrote to the Member for Capricornia last week about the issue.

"Casual and low-income workers are particularly vulnerable as a result, because that lost pay packet impacts their weekly budget and their ability to pay bills, rent and put food on the table."

Centrelink provides a Disaster Recovery Allowance which is a short term payment of up to $579.30 per fortnight to assist people whose income has been affected as a result of a natural disaster.

Yesterday, Ms Landry said Mrs Lauga should speak to Queensland's Minister for Emergency Services who would be able to confirm that they were waiting on information on housing damage.

"Emergency Management Australia and Queensland Reconstruction Authority are in close discussions with the State Minister and they are waiting on information on houses that have been considerably or moderately damaged," Ms Landry said.

"This is the information required to activate this level of support."


Member for Capricornia, Michelle Landry talking about the Rockhampton Hospital carpark.   Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin
Member for Capricornia, Michelle Landry. Chris Ison ROK070916ccarpark4

Ms Landry's office provided a statement from the Justice Minister.

"The Australian Government is committed to helping Queenslanders who have been severely impacted by Tropical Cyclone Debbie and flooding," the statement read.

"Any suggestion that we have knocked back assistance for those communities that are doing it tough is disappointing, and blatantly untrue.

"Before the cyclone even crossed the coast, Australian Defence Force personnel were on standby to support communities in the immediate aftermath of the disaster.

"We also acted quickly with the Queensland Government to make significant assistance available under the jointly-funded Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA), under which we may reimburse up to 75% of the state's disaster costs.

"In addition to this significant assistance, the Australian Government has activated both the Disaster Recovery Payment and the Disaster Recovery Allowance for eligible residents in five Queensland local government areas.

"We stand ready to provide further assistance to Queensland and understand the importance of making this help available as quickly as possible.

"Unfortunately, the Queensland Government provided no information to support its request for further assistance, which as they are fully aware, is required for all states, for all disasters."

The QRA spokesperson said activation of the Centrelink Disaster Recovery Allowance assistance was not reliant on any submissions from the Queensland Government.

"However, the Queensland Reconstruction Authority has been providing regular progressive updates to the Commonwealth as rapid damage assessments were completed in TC Debbie-affected communities," the spokesperson said.

"Activation of AGDRP is determined by the Federal Minister for Justice and takes into account the number of individuals affected and the extent to which the nature or extent of the disaster is unusual."

The Morning Bulletin has sought further clarity from the minister's office about this funding.