QLD calls on Commonwealth for $559m jointly funded flood support package

QLD calls on Commonwealth for $559m jointly funded flood support package

Cars damaged by flooding from Enoggera Creek in Wilston, Brisbane. Photo: Matt Ogg

The Queensland Government is hoping to offer $50,000 support grants to small businesses affected by flooding, provided the Commonwealth agrees to a $559 million proposal submitted to the Prime Minister yesterday.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk wrote to Scott Morrison yesterday requesting Category D assistance to be funded on a joint, 50-50 basis between the Commonwealth and State Governments.

"I'm quite sure we'll hear from him shortly, acknowledging of course he’s going through COVID at the moment," the Premier said.

The proposal is similar to the $434.7 million package announced yesterday for flood-affected communities in NSW, and will target small businesses, not-for-profits, primary producers, sporting and community organisations, and local governments for their immediate response.

"In grant funding, we anticipate 6,100 such organisations may be eligible for the grants, so we have allocated $257 million in business support," QLD Deputy Premier Steven Miles told a press conference this morning.

"We know businesses and organisations out there affected by this disaster are struggling, and we want them to know that we will be there to support them and to support them quickly.

"To give you some sense of scale. This is the biggest small business support package post-disaster since 2011."

Under the proposal, primary producers affected by this disaster - likely around 2,000 of them - will be eligible for grants of up to $75,000, including a $15,000 upfront payment.

Sporting and community organisations would be eligible to apply for grants of up to $20,000, and each affected local government area (LGA) council would be allocated $1 million "as a cash injection to assist them with the immediate clean-up effort".

"This is the first round of this kind of assistance and we anticipate more may be required as we get a better sense, a better hold, on exactly what kind of damage businesses have suffered and how we can best support them through the recovery," the Deputy Premier added.

Premier Palaszczuk noted $2.2 million had already been paid out to 5,403 applicants for existing financial supports, out of a total of 19,000 applicants to date.

"In terms of properties, there have been 5,394 damage assessments," she said.

"And we've come back with so far to date - and of course there’s going to be more - 703 severe, 886 moderate, 1,033 minor, so it has had a big impact."

This follows yesterday's total flood insurance claims estimated at $900 million in damages thus far, of which 77 per cent of claims to date have been from Queensland, according to the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA).

Queensland Health Minister Yvette D'Ath also urged people to take care with mosquito protection following the floods, following the first confirmed human case of Japanese encephalitis virus in Queensland. 

"There are now nine piggeries with confirmed infections of Japanese encephalitis in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria - the one in Queensland is in Goondiwindi, but there is another one just across the border at Tenterfield," she said.

"The confirmed case had recently travelled in regional southern Queensland and is currently being treated in a Brisbane hospital.

"This virus is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito to people and animals - in animals it mostly occurs in pigs and horses."

Clinicians in Queensland hospitals have been asked to be alert to the possibility of the Japanese encephalitis virus symptoms.

"Most human infections of this virus cause no symptoms or mild symptoms such as headache, or fever. However, a person with severe disease may present with inflammation of the brain characterised by sudden onset of vomiting, high fever and chills, severe headache, sensitivity to light, neck stiffness and nausea," Minister D'Ath said.

"Children aged under five years of age and older people who are affected with this virus are at higher risk of developing more severe illness. 

"What can you do to stay safe? We encourage Queenslanders to take necessary steps to prevent being bitten by mosquitoes, especially given the recent flooding event which may lead to an increase of mosquito numbers in the coming weeks."

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