Prime Minister Julia Gillard's letter to Gympie Mayor Ron Dyne

DEAR Mayor Dyne,

Over the past few weeks your community has been severely impacted by flooding or severe weather associated with tropical cyclone Oswald.

I want to assure you that the Commonwealth Government is absolutely committed to standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of Gympie as you continue on the path of recovery and rebuilding.

As you know, my government has already committed more than $9 billion to assist Queensland to rebuild following natural disasters over the past few years - and we will once again support communities through the recovery and reconstruction phase following the most recent floods and storms.

I visited Bundaberg and the surrounding region on January 31 with the Deputy Prime Minister, where I saw first-hand the devastation that many communities across Queensland are confronting.

As a mayor, you know what it takes to get results on the ground in your community, particularly in tough times like this. Given the scale of the task ahead, all levels of government will need to contribute to the recovery and rebuilding efforts.

The Commonwealth has been taking urgent action to assist the Gympie community.

We are providing substantial financial assistance through the long-standing Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements, including for personal and financial hardship and to support the community's immediate response to these events. We are also supporting the restoration of essential public assets.

Category A and B assistance is now available to 53 Local Government Areas across Queensland.

As you know, my government has already activated the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payments for eligible people in your area. With residents now looking towards recovery, individuals who have been impacted by the severe weather and associated flooding can claim payments of $1000 for each eligible adult and $400 for each eligible child from the Commonwealth.

Category C assistance is also available for your council area. This exceptional assistance includes clean-up and recovery grants of up to $25,000 for eligible small businesses, primary producers and not-for-profit organisations in areas severely affected by flooding. It is another way the Commonwealth is providing extra support to the people who need it the most.

The Disaster Income Recovery Subsidy has also been activated which provides payments to individuals who have lost their income.

This Commonwealth assistance is vital to support the longer-term recovery of devastated local and regional economies by supporting employees to stay in disaster-affected areas.

We have also been working with the Queensland Government to ensure that we can deliver additional support to the communities who need it most.

On Friday, February 8, the Commonwealth and the Queensland Government signed a new National Partnership Agreement to streamline funding assessments, fast-track assistance and get support rolling for families, communities, primary producers and businesses.

That agreement means that damaged sporting, recreational, memorial or community facilities (such as playgrounds, parks and associated facilities) in your area will be eligible for funding. The Commonwealth and Queensland governments are working to agree on a framework for betterment arrangements, to rebuild some vital infrastructure at significantly improved levels. It is important that we rebuild smarter and stronger, not just quicker.

We are also working to finalise a package of additional support for those areas hardest hit by the floods and severe weather events.

While the Queensland Government has primary responsibility for administering this assistance, through the Queensland Reconstruction Authority, the Commonwealth will continue to make a substantial contribution to assist your community to rebuild. In this respect, I have extended the role of Senator the Hon Joe Ludwig as the Minister Assisting on Queensland Floods Recovery.

As a Queenslander, Joe Ludwig is well known across all levels of government and is working with mayors and communities directly across the state to recover and rebuild. He will continue to closely monitor the status of recovery and reconstruction in Queensland to ensure that communities get back on their feet as soon as possible.

Please accept my support and best wishes as you get on with the business of managing the recovery process for the people of Gympie.

If there is any area where you think that further commonwealth assistance is necessary, I encourage you to contact Joe directly via senator.ludwig@aph.gov.au or by phoning 02 6277 7520.

Yours sincerely,

Julia Gillard, Prime Minister.

Gympie Times


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