Senator Barnaby Joyce.
Senator Barnaby Joyce. Allan Reinikka

Coalition promises funds for flood hit towns across country

THE Coalition has suggested it would spend more federal money on flood mitigation in towns like Bundaberg if it wins the September election.

Liberal Senator Gary Humphries said a "refocusing of the Commonwealth's largesse" to build things like levees would save money in the long run.

More than $9 billion has been spent on rebuilding parts of Queensland destroyed by floods and cyclones.

"Wouldn't it be great if we could take some of that money, rather than doling it out to repair things when the disasters happen, we took some of that money and we spent it proactively, preventively making communities more resilient," Senator Humphries told reporters in Canberra at a press conference also attended by Senator Barnaby Joyce and Flynn MP Ken O'Dowd.

"Not paying to repair the houses and bridges and schools that have been washed away, but building the levee banks around the towns where those sorts of things happen."

Senator Joyce said a Coalition would work with state governments to help towns hit by multiple floods in recent years, including the removal of houses in some areas, raising houses and building levees.

Asked if it would be a priority for a Coalition government, Senator Joyce said: "This is a priority for people right now. People don't want to wait until September 14.

"I'm talking to people now who can't get insured. I'm talking to people now in Bundaberg who are going to go uninsured. I'm talking to people now who couldn't insure after the last flood.

"We can't all stop in nation and wait for September 14th."

On the issue of soaring home insurance, Mr O'Dowd said there were examples in his electorate of premiums jumping by more than $10,000 since the last floods in the area.

"What will happen after this flood? Who knows," Mr O'Dowd said.

Senator Joyce, who lives in St George, called on the insurance companies to "really search into their souls" on the issue of soaring insurance premiums.

He said his wife had received an insurance renewal notice on Monday which showed the premium had jumped from less than $2000 last year to $5500.

"We can't just have whole areas of southern Queensland and flood areas just living without insurance," Senator Joyce said.

"I call on the insurance council and ... the government to put their shoulder to the wheel and start resolving this situation. Otherwise we will have people just living uninsured and we can't have that."

Pressed on what steps a Coalition government would do to address the issue, Senator Joyce said the companies would be "called into our office" and asked to justify the premium increases.

The companies would also be asked to explain why areas that have never flooded are considered to be at high risk of flood because they a re located within a flood-prone post code.

"Just because you're in a post code that's deemed that you flood, and that's happening in my area, which is an absurdity - my house has never flooded ... it's one of the highest spots in town - and if it's happened to me it's happened to other people," Senator Joyce said.

"If that didn't work then we could always take it to the next step. We could always take it to a Senate inquiry ... (and) start ramping things up."



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