PREMIER DISBANDS DISASTER RELIEF FUND

Written on the 1 September 2011

PREMIER DISBANDS DISASTER RELIEF FUND

ANNA Bligh today announced the disbandment of the Queensland Premier's Disaster Relief Fund.

While the Premier says amounts ranging from $2000 to $280,000 from the second largest appeal in Australian history were ‘swiftly delivered’ to the needy, the opposition and housing groups were quick to discredit the handling of the appeal and the allocation of funds.

"Money from the fund has helped more than 40,000 Queenslanders rebuild their homes and their lives,” says Bligh.

"We can never bring back those we have lost or replace those beloved personal items – but this money has gone some way to assisting people who have been through incredibly distressing situations."

Deputy leader of the LNP Tim Nicholls, says the fund was far from a success story and disaster victims should have received more timely assistance.

“It is absolutely appalling for Anna Bligh to suggest they were handing out an average of $1 million a day every day,” he says.

“The reality is flood and cyclone victims were left waiting months and months for the support they were promised, with most of the money shovelled out the door in recent weeks.

“So many Australians gave so generously to support Queenslanders facing tough times and it took far too long for donations to get to those in need.”

Master Builders Queensland executive director Graham Cuthbert cites bureaucratic hurdles and ethical issues, resulting in some people missing out completely.

“We heard of one couple missing out on payments because they were $53 over the $150,000 household earnings limit – it was bureaucracy gone mad,” says Cuthbert.

“Some chose not to get flood cover because they didn’t have enough money. However, I don’t have sympathy for those in a better financial position, who thought they didn’t need it and still got payments. It’s an area we all could have done better in.”

Funds have been fully allocated, with 98 per cent of the total $276.3 million distributed to victims. The remainder will be managed by St Vincent de Paul.

Bligh says there are only 39 applications pending payment with seven of them expected to be processed today. All applications received will be referred to St Vincent de Paul.

The Premier will table the final Distribution Committee report in State Parliament during October with a full acquittal of all funds.

Committee chair David Hamill will be retained as the delegated authority on behalf of Trustees to finalise appeals and oversee the disaster relief appeal’s December 31 close.


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