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Wednesday, 20 February 2019
Page: 14101

Queensland: Floods


Ms O'TOOLE (Herbert) (14:00): My question is to the Prime Minister. Townsville has experienced the worst natural disaster in our recorded history. The devastating floods have affected more than 22,000 homes. Why won't the Prime Minister schedule extra sitting days so this parliament can pass laws to make insurance companies treat North Queenslanders fairly? When will the Prime Minister stop listening to the insurers and start listening to the people of North Queensland?


Mr MORRISON (CookPrime Minister) (14:01): I thank the member for her question about the Townsville floods—the floods, I think, that have affected North Queensland more generally. I appreciate the member's interest in this issue. It's been several days now that we've been back in the parliament, so I welcome the question from the member.

The ministerial task force which is focused on the rebuilding, reconstruction and recovery for North Queensland was convened on Monday evening. That ministerial task force is overseeing the government's continued response to the flood crisis in Northern Queensland. I particularly want to commend all those in the Department of Human Services who have expedited some $90 million worth of payments to ensure that people in Townsville are getting that emergency support that they so desperately need. We moved immediately to remove and extend some of the eligibility requirements for those emergency payments, and that ensured that within days, almost immediately, those payments were flowing. I was pleased to be able to visit Townsville very soon after the floods and meet with the mayor, the crisis workers there and the other emergency services workers, and I commend them on the incredible work they've been doing.

Now, we will stand with all of those in North Queensland, as we have in our immediate response, during both the recovery phase and the rebuilding phase into the future. I want to thank the Queensland government for the excellent relationship we've had working closely with them. So, not a day will pass without my government doing every single thing that is needed to support the people of North Queensland—every single day. I can only say that if the member was so concerned about the financial support that we provided—

The SPEAKER: The Manager of Opposition Business, on a point of order?

Mr Burke: On direct relevance. The question goes to insurance, and the Prime Minister is yet to refer to it.

The SPEAKER: I'm not going to keep repeating myself. The question was about insurance, and other matters were mentioned in the course of that question, and the Prime Minister is being relevant to all of the words that were in the question. Again, I just caution members that, if they're going to complain about that, the words should just be a question; leave the commentary out of it.

Mr MORRISON: Thank you, Mr Speaker, but, specifically on the matter of insurance—that is one of the many issues that the government are dealing with as part of the ministerial task force in our response to the flood crisis in Northern Queensland, and the Assistant Treasurer has been working on those issues. I can assure you the insurance companies are on notice from our government that they need to address the claims and they need to be standing with the people of North Queensland in the same way that our government is doing just that.

I'm very disappointed that the government have been in put in the situation where we have to spend half a billion dollars in the next two years on opening a detention centre, which we didn't need to do two weeks ago. The only reason we have to do that is that the leader of the Labor Party has no ticker on border protection.