They’ll Freeze Aussie Bank Accounts That Are Attempting To Assist, but They Won’t Pay Out Flood Victims
More than two months after the devastating floods began, nearly 93 per cent of a $1.6bn support package still hasn’t been paid to victims.
More than two months after the devastating NSW floods began, less than 8 per cent of the money that was promised to victims by the state government has been paid out.
The NSW government has promised nearly $1.6bn in state-funded support for flood-affected communities.
But Resilience NSW, which oversees the flood response, said this week just $124m in financial assistance had been approved and allocated.
That means nearly 93 per cent of the money still hasn’t hit victims’ bank accounts.
Deputy Premier Paul Toole said the large amount of claims had proven challenging.
The payouts pale in comparison with the speed at which the federal government has doled out money.
By the second week of April, the Commonwealth said it had already put $1.1bn in flood support into NSW pockets.
By this week that figure had increased to $1.32bn, going to nearly 1.4 million NSW residents.
The federal government was repeatedly slammed by NSW leaders during the disaster for not committing enough funds for victims.
Deputy Premier Paul Toole, who was acting in the role as premier at the time, said in mid-March the Prime Minister had been “a bit slow coming to the table” to offer support for people in the state’s north.
Two weeks later Mr Toole again blasted Canberra over the flood money.
“The federal government has gone missing in action,” he said in relation to a home rebuilding scheme that the Commonwealth had declined to support.
NSW’s north was smashed by the floods.
Asked this week why support payments were proceeding so slowly, Mr Toole pointed to the need to weed out fraudulent applications.
He also said the huge number of applications received had proven challenging for bureaucrats.
“My priority has always been and continues to be helping flood-affected communities rebuild – and a big part of that is getting money out the door and in the hands of impacted local residents, farmers, and business owners as quickly as possible,” he said.
“Like any funding support, it’s important we do our due diligence and take our time to get the process right to ensure money is directed where it’s needed – not to fraudsters taking support and resources away from victims.
“Some grants have had an unprecedented volume of applications. The NSW government has deployed additional teams at Service NSW and Revenue NSW to speed up grant application assessment timeframes across multiple streams available and for those that are soon to open.”
Mr Toole added that the government was “throwing everything” at helping communities bounce back, including a total of $3bn of committed funds from the state and commonwealth.
Farmer Kath Robb said the delays were frustrating.
Broadwater farmer Kath Robb said the losses she and her husband incurred during the floods amounted to $180,000.
Despite applying for several grants in mid-March, she said she still hadn’t received any money.
“It feels quite frustrating because the first one is just the cash grant of $15,000, you would think that would need to be a fairly simple process to be identified when forms come in from all the farmers,” she said.
NSW Farmers rural affairs chairman Garry Grant urged the state government to hurry up.
“People need real help, not just promises of help, so the authorities need to make sure they’re getting this money where it’s needed as quickly as possible,” he said.