Household debris still piled in on the side of the road in Hermit Park following the devastating Townsville floods. Picture: Evan Morgan
Household debris still piled in on the side of the road in Hermit Park following the devastating Townsville floods. Picture: Evan Morgan

$1.5b disaster bill may lead to more borrowing

TREASURER Jackie Trad has not ruled out borrowing more to cover the estimated $1.5 billion cost of Queensland's summer of disasters.

The bill is an early estimate including damage to state and council roads, as well as hardship payments and other disaster grants.

When asked if the state could borrow more to cover the clean-up and rebuilding costs, Ms Trad did not rule it out.

"We are going through the Budget process now," Ms Trad said.

"Every single minister, every single agency is acutely aware of the fact that we have got a big damage bill that we have to meet.

"We will do a whole range of things. We will look at savings internally. We will look at underspends, we will look at a whole range of things in order to make sure that we are there for Queenslanders to help rebuild after the floods.

"How disaster reconstruction funding works is the state has to foot the bill in the first instance for the rebuild, the rail, the roads, significant amounts of clean up, and then we get reimbursed after the work is assured by the Federal Government.

"So this is a long process.

"After the 2010-11 summer of natural disasters we saw payments after assurance work had been done... years after 2011.

"What we know is that Queenslanders need us to stump up now."

In a speech to the Queensland Media Club lunch in Brisbane today, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk outlined the figure while slamming the Federal Government over its "policy paralysis" on climate change.

"Right now, across Queensland, early estimates suggest the cost to Queensland from this summer of disasters will be in the vicinity of $1.5 billion," Ms Palaszczuk said.

That cost includes damage to state and council infrastructure, hardship payments and grants.

"Dealing with increasing natural disasters will carry heavy burdens, emotional as well as financial," Ms Palaszczuk said.

She said that while Queensland was well versed in dealing with natural disasters, the recent events were proof these events were becoming more and more severe.

"Floods, storms, droughts and bushfires are all increasing," she told the lunch.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk speaks at a media club lunch in Brisbane today. Picture: Dan Peled/AAP
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk speaks at a media club lunch in Brisbane today. Picture: Dan Peled/AAP

"In recent times, the intensity and number of those disasters has risen at an alarming rate.

"Since late November, Queensland has seen a series of natural disasters - two of them are without precedent.

"What are we doing about it?

"In Canberra we have had policy paralysis for years.

"Ideology has unseated science, evidence and facts are simply ignored.

"That ideological blindness has immediate real-world consequences for Australians.

"The Federal uncertainty on energy policy has put jobs at risk and stalled investment - in stark contrast to what we see here in Queensland, where our energy policy is crystal clear for all to see.

"The Federal Government's energy paralysis also has impacts on the transport and agricultural sectors, which risk carrying a disproportionate share of the cost of dealing with climate change.

"I accept the science of climate change, so does everyone in my Government."

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington accused the Government of slaying the groundwork to "slug Queenslanders more tax".

"Labor's economic mismanagement means it hasn't done the work and (Premier) Annastacia Palaszczuk needs to immediately rule out raising or introducing new taxes," she said.



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