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Details of cash payments to flood victims announced

Parliamentary Secretary for Social Security Senator Grant Tambling today gave further details on the assistance to be provided by the Commonwealth to the victims of recent flooding in Katherine and adjacent regions.

Senator Tambling outlined the eligibility requirements for the "Commonwealth Emergency Payment" - an ex-gratia payment of $1000 per adult and $200 per child, announced by the Prime Minister last week.

He said people would only need to meet one of the following criteria to receive the payment:

. their principal place of residence was destroyed or severely damaged; or

. their principal place of residence was without safe water, power, sewerage, roads for a prolonged period and the household was not able to function adequately; or

. their principal place of residence was unavailable for the persons use for a significant period because the person had been evacuated or cut off from the residence.

Senator Tambling said the payment would be tax free and not income or asset tested.

He said payment would be made through Centrelink outlets.

"In Katherine, Centrelink staff have set up temporary operations out of the NT Government Centre in First Street from today," Senator Tambling said.

"Additional staff resources and cash to facilitate payments were taken to Katherine this morning."

"Assistance will also be available through Centrelink customer service centres in Casuarina, Knuckey Street, Darwin and Palmerston."

He said people in hardship who did not receive the ex-gratia payment could be eligible for a temporary Special Benefit payment under relaxed eligibility criteria.

This could apply where a person without paid leave entitlement is temporarily unable to work because of damage to their place of employment, where a self-employed person is unable to open for business because of damage to their premises or stock or where a person is unable to support themselves or their family as a result of the floods," Senator Tambling said.

People with general enquires can continue to access information via the following 13 numbers:

. Newstart payments 132 850

. Pension payments 132 300

. Family payments 131 305

"The visit of Prime Minister John Howard reaffirmed the Federal Government's support for the people of Katherine and surrounding areas and the Government will offer all the support necessary to help residents get back on their feet," Senator Tambling said.

Contact:

Lynne Hare, 0412 087 314

Senator Tambling, (Saturday pm) 0419 811 415

Jeff Svigos, Customer Service Manager, Centrelink, Darwin 08 8943 0349