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Queensland’s disaster bill to be $1bn more than expected

June 5th, 2011 Australia

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The damage bill from Queensland’s natural disasters is expected to top $6.8 billion – $1 billion more than expected. Picture: AFP
Source: The Courier-Mail

THE damage bill from Queensland’s natural disasters is expected to top $6.8 billion – $1 billion more than expected.

Treasurer Andrew Fraser today announced the revised figure, of which the state will be liable for $1.8 billion under shared funding arrangements with the federal government.

“As well as the tragic human cost, there has also been enormous damage to infrastructure and significant costs incurred in managing the response and recovery process,” Mr Fraser said in a statement.

He said the increase was largely due to new estimates from councils that predict they’ll need more than $2.7 billion for repairs – $900 million more than initially forecast.

“Such a big damage bill underlines the enormity of the task ahead,” the Treasurer said, adding that it would put strain on the upcoming budget.

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The state government will fund its share of costs through the $1.83 billion lease of the Abbot Point Coal Terminal, which was part of the controversial asset sales program.

Meanwhile, most of Queensland’s cyclone and flood victims will receive their relief appeal payments by August under a new timetable to wind up the fund.

Premier Anna Bligh today announced contents payments and a proposed cost-of-living payment to victims from the Premier’s Disaster Relief Appeal as it is emptied out.

More than $100 million has been paid to 30,000 flood and Cyclone Yasi victims from the $265 million fund, with round three payments for structural damage closing on June 30.

Ms Bligh said an immediate contents payment of up to $30,000 would follow for those who had qualified for round two of the appeal.

Contents payments of up to $10,000 would be made to round three applicants.

And cost-of-living payments would be announced in early July for 30,000 victims who did not receive round two and three money if enough funds remained, Ms Bligh said.

“As we enter winter it is particularly important that people feel they can afford to properly heat their homes, eat properly and look after their families,” she said.

“If there is sufficient money left in the fund after round three is completed, we will make sure that the cost of living payments go to the thousands of Queenslanders who have been affected by the floods and Cyclone Yasi.”

Residual money would be used to rebuild homes in “special cases”, helping those experiencing genuine hardship but who have missed out on payments, she said.

And donations to the fund after June 30 will be allocated to St Vincent de Paul to help victims.

Ms Bligh said the fund will have paid out $1 million a day since the fund’s establishment by August 31.

“We aim to have distributed all of the money to Queenslanders in the space of just over six months,” she said.

“By way of comparison, money from the Victoria Bush Fire Appeal is still being distributed two years after those terrible events.”