Been there, done that: Premier says PM’s ‘national emergency’ is a week too late

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says it’s too late for the prime minister to declare a national emergency due to floods in Queensland because the disaster situation has already ended.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk appears to be heading for an iceberg but is too stubborn to change course.  (AAP Image/Darren England)

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk appears to be heading for an iceberg but is too stubborn to change course. (AAP Image/Darren England)

Scott Morrison had been planning to declare an emergency on Thursday, two weeks after the peak of major floods which killed 13 people and damaged thousand of homes and businesses in the southeast.

When asked about the declaration, the premier said it would be pointless because the immediate crisis had passed with disaster declarations in 17 local government areas set to be lifted within three days.

“The time for that national emergency (declaration) was probably a week ago,” Ms Palaszczuk told reporters on Thursday.

“So we’ve actually gone past that. The floodwaters have gone down, they’ve subsided, and … those disaster declarations will be lifted on Sunday.”

Palaszczuk added that the prime minister had been very good in offering ADF personnel to help the state government with its recovery efforts.

Meanwhile, Mr Morrison has defended a decision to deny 17 of the state’s 20 applications for Commonwealth flood mitigation funding.

The three projects which received federal funding were in the state’s far north and Gulf regions, rather than the heavily-populated southeast.

The prime minister said grants from the $5 billion fund weren’t unlimited, but flood mitigation works were ultimately a local and state government responsibility anyway.

“When it comes to particularly urban water management and things of that nature, these are responsibilities of local authorities and the state government,” he said.

“The question I could equally put to you is, ‘Why haven’t they funded them, why do state governments constantly come to the federal government to pay for things that are responsibilities of state governments’.”

Palaszczuk said all 20 project applications, including an upgrade of the state’s flood warning system, were only worth $127 million in total, which wasn’t much from a $5 billion fund.

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She couldn’t understand why the applications were knocked back when the state and federal governments usually work cooperatively on disaster planning and mitigation.

“You can’t have a fund and not use it. So I honestly believe that if you’ve got the money there, let’s get it out the door,” she added.

The premier and prime minister were due to hold talks on the recovery efforts later on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Palaszczuk said the insurance claims on private cars, homes and businesses from the floods have topped $1 billion.

Flood Recovery Coordinator Major-General Jake Ellwood said 4000 homes were moderately or severely damaged with thousands more damage assessments still to be done.

“It is significant, but it is great work that has been done to really start to understand the scale of this disaster,” he told reporters.

More than 41,000 individuals and 344 businesses had also been paid $7 million in joint state and Commonwealth hardship grants as of Wednesday afternoon.

The premier also said 169 farms have lost fencing, 117 properties have lost equipment and 53 per cent reported suffering a major or catastrophic impact from the deluge.

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