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Monday, 2 March 2015
Page: 1738

Ms LANDRY (Capricornia) (10:50): The clean-up continues following Cyclone Marcia on the Capricorn Coast, Rockhampton and surrounding areas in Central Queensland. This is the heart of my electorate of Capricornia. It has been 10 days since the impact and people continue to suffer badly. Along with ordinary households, small business and primary producers have also suffered dreadful losses of stock, infrastructure and the ability to earn an income. This is in turn impacts on workers, whose jobs in these industries are now at risk. On the ground, I recognise that people have become angry that they are finding it too difficult to meet the criteria for financial help. People are queuing in long lines in the hot sun outside recovery hubs to register for financial assistance.

We are working on this at the highest levels of government to help. The Prime Minister visited Yeppoon and Rockhampton on Thursday and Friday. He walked down Ben Street, one of those badly hit in Yeppoon. He spoke to local residents—listening first hand to their traumatic stories and the huge road to recovery they now face. The Prime Minister also attended a BBQ with volunteers and emergency work crews, who are working hard to help our community recover. Joining the Prime Minister was the federal Minister for Justice, overseeing natural disaster assistance, and the federal Minister for Human Services as well as the chief of the Australian Defence Force. The Prime Minister announced additional assistance to help people who cannot go to work and earn an income to feed their families because their workplace has been shut down due to the impact of the cyclone. Those eligible can now apply to access 13 weeks of Newstart payments.

The agriculture minister visited the Capricorn Coast on Saturday. We met with farmers who grow mangoes, lychees, avocados, citrus, pineapples, sweet potato and macadamias, as well as the plant nurseries and those in the dairy and timber industries. Like many, macadamia grower Errol Vass, has lost a $200,000 nut crop and 2,000 trees. These trees were 48-years old and their production value was priceless. He estimates it would take 15 years to rebuild. The Marsh family at Boundary Nursery near Byfield report losses over $1 million and counting. The minister and I listened closely, and we have returned to Canberra with a list of suggestions to help our agricultural industries and small business owners to get back on their feet. I will continue to keep the House informed.