The future of Queensland government post-Cyclone Debbie infrastructure projects are in jeopardy after the Commonwealth committed to covering just a quarter of the recovery funds the state had asked for.
Deputy Premier Jackie Trad on Saturday lashed a federal government decision to cough up just $29.3 million of the $110 million sought by Queensland, labelling it “mean-spirited” and a “slap in the face”.
Malcolm Turnbull said most of the money in Queensland’s proposed $220 million Debbie recovery program was for infrastructure projects that could not be considered disaster relief.
The prime minister accused the state of trying to use the assistance package as a slush fund.
“It (the disaster funding scheme) is not designed to fund new infrastructure. It is designed to fund recovery and repairs and reinstatement and so forth,” Mr Turnbull told reporters on the Gold Coast.
“The request from Queensland was carefully assessed in accordance with the rules and funding has been applied in accordance with the rules.”
The state had sought $60 million for a flood levee in Rockhampton to prevent a repeat of this year’s floods, and $40 million to upgrade the Whitsunday Coast airport.
But Ms Trad said previous federal governments had agreed to fund mitigation infrastructure as part of disaster relief funding, singling out money provided to upgrade Brisbane’s ferry terminals in the wake of the 2011 floods as an example.
“If that application had been put in now, it would have been rejected. This is the kind of mean-hearted federal government that we have under Malcolm Turnbull,” she told reporters in Brisbane. Ms Trad said the state had covered half the cost of the $220 million package in its state budget last month, and would have to decide how best to spend that money.
“Our money is there, it’s in the budget, that won’t change … so we’re going to have to go back and re-look at this,” she said. “We’re going to have to talk to the communities and the mayors of these councils and have a conversation about where we go to from here.”