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Katherine region flood response measures to assist business immediately re-generate jobs



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Media Statement - S 1 la/98 Page 1 ofXZ

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Other M edia Statem ents [Minister for Regional Development, Territories and Local Government! [Minister for Transport and Regional Development 1

[Michael Ronaldson, Parliamentary Secretary] [Departmental]

M e d i a

R e l e a s eTHE HON ALEX S( Minister for Regional Development, Territories and I 5 February 1998 SI la/98

KATHERINE REGION FLOOD RESPONSE MEASURES TO ASSIST BUSINESS IMMEDIATELY RE GENERATE JOBS

The Minister for Territories, Alex Somlyay and the Acting Finance Minister, Senator Rod Kemp have welcomed the Prime Minister's announcement o f details o f the new $ 10m joint government/business sponsored initiative to support the Katherine recovery effort.

The Commonwealth and the Northern Territory government have each committed S3.3m to the Katherine Region community re-development programme. The general corporate sector, including insurance company's, banks, mining, tourism and the community will be invited to contribute to the fund. The government will amend the income tax law to allow donations to the fund to be tax deductible from the date public fund requirements have been satisfied.

The one-off joint package is needed in addition to the Natural Disaster Relief Arrangements to address the ferocity o f the flood and its impact on this isolated unique community where the entire business sector and remote communities have been decimated.

The fund will provide 'top-up' or 'safety net' assistance to the 200 businesses beyond that normally available under the Commonwealth/Territory emergency relief arrangements.

Since the onset o f the disastrous flooding in Katherine on Australia Day and the declaration o f a state o f emergency, the Commonwealth and the NT government have extended substantial financial assistance to the people of Katherine under the Natural Disaster Relief Arrangements (NDRA).

The Commonwealth has committed some $31 m in immediate disaster relief and infrastructure funding. A preliminary estimate o f the total damage to Katherine and the area affected by the floods is $130m o f which $60m is expected to be covered by insurance. The Commonwealth's overall direct contribution to the cost o f the damage is likely to be about $34m.

http://www.dot.gov.au/media/somlyay/1998/sl la_98.htm 04/06/1998

Media Statement - SI 1 a/98 Page 2 o f 3

This includes some $21m under the normal disaster relief arrangements. Additional special Commonwealth measures include,

• An ex-gratia payment o f $ 1,000 per adult and $200 per child, non-taxed and non-means tested. • $5m for re-construction o f the Stuart Highway • $3.3m towards this special Katherine Region redevelopment fund

This initiative will facilitate business activity in the Katherine region, which is in addition to needs covered by the Natural Disaster Relief Arrangements. It is proposed that the decisions on spending will be community driven with the focus on restoring the local economy in the region.

"It is designed to kick start the Katherine region economy by allowing shattered business operations to start trading and creating jobs again," said Ministers Somlyay and Rod Kemp.

Banks and insurance companies have quickly put in place special arrangements to assist flood victims.

Funding under the new programme could be available for:

• an initial grant o f $5,000 per business • re-establishment o f electricity services ($2,500 maximum per business) • moratorium on electricity charges for two months • assistance with rent, telephone and financial costs for up to a maximum o f $1,000 per

month

• rehabilitation o f Katherine Terrace, the main business centre • rehabilitation o f national parks • development o f a tourist information centre • replacement o f the recreation centre

"Under the Northern Territory disaster relief scheme funded under the NDRA by the Commonwealth a combination o f grants and concessional loans is available to help persons re-establish their lives following a natural disaster.

The Ministers welcomed the very positive reaction by the Chief Minister o f the Northern Territory, Shane Stone and the Mayor o f Katherine, Cr Jim Forscutt to this latest initiative for business and employment in the Katherine region.

Discussions with the insurance industry raised the matter o f options for longer-term flood insurance measures. Most homeowners and business insurance policies do not cover losses from flooding. The Insurance Council o f Australia has agreed to examine the particular issues that flood insurance raises.

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Further information:

Graeme Hallett (Minister Somlyay) 02-6277 7060 Penny Farnsworth (Minister Rod Kemp) 02-6277 7360

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