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Wednesday, 9 March 1977

Mr LYNCH (FLINDERS, VICTORIA) (Treasurer) - I have been made aware of the very serious flooding which has taken place in parts of northern Queensland. I am informed that the Queensland Government has already declared a state of disaster in certain areas. I very much appreciate, as I am sure do honourable members generally, the concern which has been expressed by the honourable member for Herbert. I take this opportunity to say that he contacted me at the earliest opportunity to provide me with the latest information which was available directly from his own electorate. The Commonwealth has already embarked upon discussions with officials of the State Administration. I make it clear that any request which comes from Queensland will be dealt with quickly and sympathetically within the framework of the established natural disaster procedures. Under these procedures the Commonwealth is prepared to join the State Government on a dollarfordollar basis in meeting expenditure on the immediate relief of personal hardship and distress, except where such expenditure is of a very minor nature.

I should mention also that in respect of major disasters- it is too early to say whether the present situation will come within this categorythe Commonwealth assists also with expenditures on agreed relief and restoration measures. I give my colleague, the honourable member for Herbert, a very firm assurance that the Commonwealth will be giving consideration of this matter the highest priority during the period ahead. We are waiting for information from officers of the State Administration. My officials are in urgent contact with them now. I hope to be in a position in the course of the next 24 hours to let the honourable gentleman know what the situation will be in respect of assistance.

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