Debbie's victims call for an end to political games over NDRRA funding

13th April 2017 5:13 PM
Owner of the Whitsunday Beefalo farm Christina della Valle. Owner of the Whitsunday Beefalo farm Christina della Valle. Peter Carruthers

A WHITSUNDAY farmer has described the politicising of the Palaszczuk Government's submission for category C funding under the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements as "kick in the guts” for all Queensland.

Christina della Valle said she felt as though Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce, was "taking political advantage” after she saw him on the television waving a submission from the New South Wales Government in front of the camera.

He then did the same with the Queensland submission drawing viewer attention to the obvious difference in size.

Free range pigs at the Whitsunday Beefalo farm in Preston.
Free range pigs at the Whitsunday Beefalo farm in Preston. Peter Carruthers

Ms della Valle is a primary producer who could use the category C grant of up to $25,000 if the Federal Government gave the green light to the Queensland Government application.

Yesterday member for Dawson George Christensen promised the funding would become available and accused the Palaszczuk Labor Government of "politicising a natural disaster in the wake of Cyclone Debbie”.

A statement from Senator Anthony Chisholm yesterday said Minister Michael Keenan had knocked back the Queensland Government's request for Catagory C funding.

Mr Christensen and Mr Joyce said the request was denied on the grounds that forms were not correctly filled out.

"They said, 'forget all the rules and send us the money' (but) you actually have to fill out the application form,” Mr Joyce said.

Today however the Palaszczuk Government has provided required business cases to unlock Category C NDRRA funding.

Queensland Agriculture minister Bill Byrne, in the state's defence said "the Commonwealth's requirements are extremely complex and in the immediate aftermath many communities find it extremely difficult to interrupt their immediate clean up efforts to provide the detailed information our Federal counterparts require”.

Something Ms della Valle in Preston can relate to.

Her farm was torn apart by Cyclone Debbie.

Fields are littered with corrugated iron roof sheeting and fallen trees have destroyed her fencing.

Cyclone Debbie has wreaked large scale destruction at Beefalo.
Cyclone Debbie has wreaked large scale destruction at Beefalo. Peter Carruthers

”What (Mr Joyce) did yesterday on TV was a kick in the guts for everybody in Queensland,” she said.

"What does it matter if it is a two pages or a stack? Does that make our disaster smaller?” she asked.

"What he did is trying to take political advantage out of a disaster.”

Minister for Agriculture and Member for Rockhampton Bill Byrne said previous governments had realised the impact these disasters had on communities and cut the red tape to make additional relief measures available to those who needed it most.

"The Commonwealth's current approach risks leaving vulnerable communities still taking stock, behind," he said.

Brian Harding at the Whitsunday Beefalo farm making repairs to the machine shed roof.
Brian Harding at the Whitsunday Beefalo farm making repairs to the machine shed roof. Peter Carruthers

"However, despite the request just two days ago to relax its restrictions in this instance, the Turnbull Government prefers to leave our farmers and small business operators waiting while we jump through their hoops and reams of paperwork to tick its boxes.”

Category C assistance grants are jointly funded by the State (25%) and Federal Government (75%).

Small businesses and non-profit organisations may be eligible for recovery grants if they:

. Have suffered direct damage to their premises and/or tools of trade

. The essential cost of repair or replacement are the applicant's responsibility

. Are intending to re-establish in the specified area

. Were conducting business in the specified area prior to and including the date of the event