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George Christensen Wants Aid Diverted to Queensland

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North Queensland Nationals MP George Christensen called for foreign aid to be diverted to Queensland to help deal with the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie.

He said: “It’s an absolute insult to people who have already suffered horrendous losses to then be abandoned by those who are supposed to help; people had their homes blown to pieces, flooded, and left without electricity for more than 10 days but have been denied disaster relief funding.

“Meanwhile, they hear on the news that Australia has just committed another $320 million in foreign aid to Afghanistan.

Until this is sorted, not one dollar should be spent on foreigners.”

Mr Christensen said that payments had not been made to not-for-profit organisations and farmers who had suffered croplosses.

Queensland Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk also called for payments to be made to farmers and said that cyclone damage should classified as a category C disaster which would mean that funding was available.

Acting Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said yesterday that funding would be made available to the Queensland government as soon as it was requested.

He said that the state government was the lead entity for the distribution of funds and it was up to them to make a formal request detailing the quantum of funds needed.

Residents of North Queensland are angry about the meagre financial assistance that has been made available so far recovery.

The Queensland government has provided just $1 million to four charities by way of funding for the recovery effort.

To date victims have received $185 per adult and $900 per family of five.

In contrast, victims of Cyclone Yasi received $2,000 per adult and $1,000 per child.

Asked about Mr Christensen’s comments the Prime Minister refused to respond directly.

Instead, aware of the fact that he was in PNG, one of Australia’s biggest aid recipients, he said: “Australia is a generous and responsible foreign aid donor.

“It is a very important part of our international diplomacy, it’s a very important part of our role as a responsible and effective global citizen.

The floods in Queensland have been shocking, and indeed in New South Wales. Substantial relief has always been paid by the Commonwealth government and state governments for disaster relief.”

The Queensland government has announced a review of the response to the cyclone with a view to improving operations in the future.

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