Queensland farmers hit by Tropical Cyclone Debbie are yet to receive much-needed disaster relief money because the state and federal governments are arguing over the paperwork.
The Federal Government has rejected the Queensland Government’s request for Category C funding, which gives affected farmers access to payments of up to $25000, saying the state failed to provide the correct information to support the application.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk last Wednesday insisted the information was being gathered by officials, but said Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce had previously assured her the funding would be approved.
‘‘Barnaby Joyce said that he wanted me to write to him, to cut the red tape and get the money out the door. I’ve done that,’’ Ms Palaszczuk said.
‘‘The paperwork is being finalised, but there is no reason why the Federal Government cannot activate Category C today.
‘‘I’m now calling on the Federal Government to stop playing politics, come to the table and work with my departments and my agencies as we seek to rebuild this state.’’
But Mr Joyce said it wasn’t as simple as that.
‘‘To do an application you actually have to fill out the application form,’’ he said.
‘‘It is like saying I will just write a letter to the bank saying ‘I would like a whole heap of money and I will not tell you what it is for’. We want to help you, we have a heap of stuff, just fill it out.’’
The state opposition has also criticised the premier for not getting her paperwork in order, with Shadow Agriculture Minister Dale Last pointing out it wasn’t the first time the issue had come up.
‘‘Annastacia Palaszczuk tried this same trick after Tropical Cyclone Marcia, applying for funding without the supporting documentation, again hanging the people of north Queensland out to dry,’’ Mr Last said.
In 2013, the then-Newman Liberal-National Party state government applied to the Federal Government for Category C funding following severe flooding in parts of the state, notably around the Bundaberg region.
The then-Gillard Government noted there was insufficient information to support the application, but granted Category C funds on the basis of helping affected communities.
Ms Palaszczuk has also called on the Federal Government to match her government’s $1million contribution towards an advertising campaign letting consumers know which produce had been affected and when it would be available again.