Bandt slams federal flood assistance payments, calls for coal and gas corporations to pay for recovery
Greens Leader Adam Bandt will today announce the Greens’ plan to make coal and gas corporations pay for recovery, including doubling the Disaster Recovery Payment to $2000 for adults and $800 for dependents, and expanding the eligibility criteria.
Bandt will call for a flood levy on coal and gas corporations to foot the bill for the mess they have made.
The government’s failure to index the payment means it has been cut in real terms by about 30%.
Quotes attributable to Greens Leader Adam Bandt MP:
“Coal and gas are fuelling these floods. The Government should make coal and gas corporations pay to clean up the mess.
“In real terms, people are getting less money than in previous floods and fewer people are eligible for the payment.
“The current Disaster Recovery Payment is woefully inadequate and smacks of a government trying to downplay the breadth and scale of this climate disaster. The payment should be lifted to $2000 and the government should reverse its restrictions on who can get it.
“Instead of downplaying these weather events, we need to tell the truth - dangerous climate change is going to mean more tragedies each year.
“Last time we had major floods in Brisbane the bill was over $5 billion and the Government made everyday people pay a levy to clean it up. This time they should just go straight to coal corporations like Glencore and Whitehaven with the bill.
“During the pandemic, billionaires and mining corporations posted billions of profits and collected tax breaks. Now, people who’ve lost their home or lost a loved one due to years of climate exploitation and negligence are being offered $1000. It’s outrageous.
Background - Disaster Recovery Payments
From Gympie to Ballina, entire towns have experienced the devastation of climate breakdown, and coal and gas corporations must pay for the damage. People have lost houses, cars and furniture. Tens of thousands of residents in Queensland and the Northern Rivers have been without power and drinking water for days. Many people have had to find temporary accommodation. First Nations communities are in many cases on the frontline of the devastation. They are under-resourced and hurting, and sites of significance have been impacted, like the Bundjalung Country Bora Bora ring and Banyam Baigham in Lismore.
The Disaster Recovery Payment available to people is unchanged from when the scheme was first introduced 18 years ago in 2006. Without indexing, the payment in real terms is now in fact less than 2006, representing approximately a 30% cut. The payment is not available to any temporary visa holders and therefore excludes student visas, seasonal workers and other temporary workers.
Eligibility has also been significantly narrowed compared with the 2011 floods: payments are now restricted to people whose homes have been majorly damaged by the floods, completely disregarding people who are stranded in their homes or have been without essential services.
$1.8 billion was raised and invested in the clean up efforts by the Gillard Government in 2011 through an increase in the Medicare Levy. However, the mining and burning of coal and gas has helped turn these once in a hundred year floods into once a decade - and they will accelerate. Coal and gas companies, profiting from the climate crisis, should have to pay to clean up from the disasters they are turbocharging.
80% of the coal mined in Australia is exported overseas. Coal exports are Australia's greatest contribution to the climate emergency.
Commonwealth Disaster Recovery Payment Eligibility Criteria 2011 v 2022
2011 Eligibility Criteria
A person will be eligible for this payment if they:
was seriously injured, or
is the immediate family member of an Australian killed as a direct
result of the disaster, or
their principal place of residence has been destroyed, or
their principal place of residence has sustained major damage, or
is unable to gain access to their principal place of residence for a period of 24 hours or more, or
is stranded in their principal place of residence for a period of 24 hours or more, or
their principal place of residence was without electricity, water, gas, sewerage services or another essential service for at least 48 hours (a utility failure) and the utility failure was caused by damage to public or private infrastructure
2022 Current Federal Government Eligibility Criteria
A person will be eligible for this payment if:
you were seriously injured
you’re the immediate family member of an Australian citizen or resident who died or is missing
the flood caused major damage to your home