Acting premier accuses PM of not caring about flood victims after Morrison says resilience package ‘outside the scope’ of federal responsibility
The Insurance Council of Australia says the federal government cannot “wash its hands of responsibility” for natural disaster resilience after Scott Morrison refused a Queensland government request to help fund a $741m flood response.
The Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, wrote to Morrison on 19 March asking to go halves in the package – which was designed to pay for retrofitting, house raising or the voluntary buyback of flood-damaged homes.
In a response received last night, the prime minster said the programs would not be supported by the commonwealth. Morrison said such such measures were “outside the scope” of federal disaster recovery programs and the responsibility of state and local governments.
“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,” Morrison wrote.
On Wednesday, the Insurance Council of Australia released a statement that criticised the federal government’s decision not to help fund the resilience package.
In February, the ICA released a report calling for $726m to be invested jointly by the Queensland and federal governments over five years. It had welcomed the resilience funding when it was announcement by the Queensland government.
“As severe rain and flooding continues to impact the east coast, the failure of the federal government to match Queensland’s investment in measures to improve household and community protections against extreme weather is disappointing and short-sighted,” the ICA’s chief executive, Andrew Hall, said.
“If Australia is to get serious about improving our resilience to flood, bushfire and cyclone, all levels of government must contribute.
“Australians – particularly those still impacted by the ongoing rain and flooding – want governments to come together to provide better protections against worsening extreme weather, not wash their hands of responsibility.”
The rejection prompted an angry statement from the Queensland treasurer and acting premier, Cameron Dick, who said Morrison’s response effectively said “it’s not his problem”.
“Every Queenslander needs to know that this letter shows that Scott Morrison does not care about flood victims who need help from all levels of government,” Dick said.
“It doesn’t matter if your home floods two, three or four times over, Scott Morrison wants no part in creating an ongoing solution.
“Every expert report, including his own royal commission into natural disasters, says that the federal government should be funding disaster resilience, but this prime minister will not take responsibility and do his job to fund it.”