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Tuesday, 18 September 2012
Page: 11005

Emergency Relief

Mrs D'ATH (Petrie) (14:48): My question is to the Minister for Community Services, Minister for Indigenous Employment and Economic Development and Minister for the Status of Women. What type of emergency relief and support is the government providing vulnerable Australians? How important is it for all governments—local, state and federal—to work together to deliver this support to people who need it most?

Ms COLLINS (FranklinMinister for Community Services, Minister for the Status of Women and Minister for Indigenous Employment and Economic Development) (14:49): I thank the member for Petrie for her very important question. I know she understands the really important role that emergency relief provides in her electorate and right across the country. That is why this government has almost doubled emergency relief funding since we came to office in 2007. Indeed, we are now providing more than $180 million over three years to community groups right across the country, to provide this valuable relief.

Emergency relief assists people in financial crisis. It assists them with things such as vouchers for food, transport and medicines, part payment of accounts such as rent and utility bills and the provision of household goods, food parcels or clothing. I know that many members in this House really understand this important program and the assistance that it provides, because I have received many letters of support for this program from right across the House.

In fact, one member of the House eloquently described the work of a group in his electorate in a letter in May, where he said: 'This program caters for clients who are particularly vulnerable and require referral and coordination of services plus assistance with practical needs such as food.' This, of course, was the member for Dawson, who was seeking funding for a particular organisation in his electorate. I can inform the member for Dawson that the government is providing almost $830,000 in emergency relief to the Mackay area for the next two financial years. Indeed, we are providing more than 152 contracts to emergency relief providers right across Queensland, providing more than $36 million in emergency relief over the next three years. And that is not counting the additional $1 million that we provided in emergency relief for flood affected Queenslanders, in light of their plight during the flood and recognising the assistance that they needed at that time.

But now Queenslanders needing emergency relief have been left stranded by the Newman state government. As part of Campbell Newman's cuts, Queensland is now the only state in Australia not providing emergency relief to vulnerable people. In fact, my advice is that the Newman government will cut this emergency relief to the three biggest providers in Queensland by the end of this month and to all the other providers by the end of November. What does the Newman government plan instead? Well, the government's media release says:

… emergency relief will no longer be provided, however people in financial crisis will still be able to access emergency vouchers and assistance through the federally funded scheme.

Cutbacks Campbell has become Pass-the-buck Campbell. What an outrageous shirking of his responsibility as a Queenslander. They are using every trick in the book. We know that the Leader of the Opposition and the Liberals support these cuts to vulnerable Queenslanders, because we know they would do the same if they ever got back into government.