‘Not his problem’: Qld claims ‘insult’ after PM rejects $741m flood request

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has rejected a request from the Queensland government to jointly fund a $741 million flood recovery package, in what the state has described as an “election-eve insult” to flood victims.

In a letter to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk late on Tuesday, seen by this masthead, Mr Morrison said such important programs were traditionally a local or state responsibility and therefore “outside the scope” of the federal Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.

The stoush between the states and federal government after recent flooding events has emerged as a flashpoint.

The stoush between the states and federal government after recent flooding events has emerged as a flashpoint.Credit:Getty Images

But the state has pointed to the National Recovery and Resilience Agency, established by the Commonwealth last year with an initial $600 million to support community and residential resilience programs such as cyclone-proofing homes and building levees, as an alternative.

“Less than three weeks ago, the Premier wrote to the Prime Minister, asking him to hear the call of flood victims, and help fund a $741 million residential recovery package” acting premier Cameron Dick said in a statement.

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The initial request to Morrison, sent by Palaszczuk on March 19, noted the Commonwealth’s agreement to an earlier recovery grants package and sought a 50/50 funding split for a $771 million exceptional circumstances packages under category D disaster recovery arrangements.

A total of $741 million of this was to be a “resilient residential recovery package” to provide the almost 7000 Queenslanders whose homes had been badly damaged with options to move forward.

At the time, Deputy Premier Steven Miles suggested $350 million of the package could allow the state to buy back 500 high-risk properties, with $275 million to retrofit 5500 homes and $100 million to raise another 1000.

A further $30 million in category D funding was sought for a clean-up package to help councils and agencies remove flood-related debris usually outside the scope of support.

Responding the letter on Tuesday, Morrison noted the residential proposal, saying they were “important programs that traditionally fall within the responsibilities and discretion of local and state governments and therefore outside the scope of our DRFA process”.

“These programs can and should be directly funded and delivered by the Queensland government in the same way that the Commonwealth fully funds significant elements of our own contribution,” he wrote, suggesting $80 million in leftover category B funding could go towards these.

Mr Morrison said the federal government would share the cost of the clean-up package and had already committed $912 million to the flood response — $632 million funded solely by the Commonwealth — through joint arrangements, payments and disaster allowances and direct support in 23 councils.

He also agreed to co-fund additional flood mitigation projects outlined in a later letter from Ms Palaszczuk, except for a warning network proposal Mr Morrison said Emergency Management Minister Bridget McKenzie would write to Miles about, and sought more detail on a levee for Bundaberg.

Mr Dick said: “This project has gone through detailed design and community consultation already, but Scott Morrison says it has to do it all again.”

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Matt Dennien is a state political reporter with Brisbane Times, where he has previously covered Brisbane City Council and general news.Connect via Twitter, Facebook or email.

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