New Assistance Measures Announced by Australian Government to Assist Communities & Businesses Devastated by Cyclone Yasi
Queensland, Australia (News4us.com) February 17, 2011
Acting Prime Minister and Treasurer Wayne Swan, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh and the Minister Assisting the Attorney-General on Queensland Floods Recovery, Joe Ludwig, today announced further measures to assist communities and businesses devastated by Cyclone Yasi.
The package has been developed in conjunction with affected communities and is jointly funded by the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments.
The new assistance measures reflect the exceptional nature of the damage in Far North Queensland and are targeted at the hardest hit areas, Cassowary Coast, Hinchinbrook and parts of the Tablelands.
The Commonwealth has activated Category D of the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements and other new measures, including:
- Special concessional loans of up to $650,000 for eligible businesses, primary producers and not-for-profit organisations suffering extreme damage, with a grant component of up to $50,000
- Wage assistance for employers, including primary producers, equivalent to Newstart Allowance for up to 13 weeks to help maintain the viability of businesses and the local community. This period may be extended to 26 weeks depending on the speed of the recovery
- A $20 million Rural Resilience Fund, jointly funded by the Federal and Queensland Governments, to be administered by the Queensland Reconstruction Authority to help fund business and community support activities, such as farm clean-ups, counselling and social support measures
- An upfront payment of $50 million to the Queensland Government as an advance on future liabilities under the NDRRA
The Federal Government has also agreed to activate NDRRA Category C clean-up and recovery grants of up to $25,000 for eligible small businesses and primary producers in the local government areas of Burdekin, Cairns, Cassowary Coast, Hinchinbrook, Palm Island, Tablelands, Townsville and Yarrabah.
It is too early to estimate the cost of rebuilding infrastructure but the measures announced today, together with payments under the AGDRP, are expected to deliver in the order of $400 million of assistance for the cyclone-affected communities.
This is a specific package designed to address the unique issues faced by Far North Queensland communities recovering from this disaster.
The region faces significant economic challenges over the coming months because of its reliance on a few key industries, such as sugar and bananas, which will take many months to recover.
The Far North’s distance from major centres also means there are limited alternative sources of employment. The Government aims to prevent communities from being hollowed out before the recovery is fully underway.
The package of measures will help local economies rebuild so that people can continue working and businesses can keep their doors open.
The new measures announced today will build on the assistance that has already been rolled out to support cyclone-affected regions, as well as a broader range of flood-affected areas:
- Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payments of $1,000 per adult and $400 for each child. To date, more than 126,000 claims have been made, injecting more than $148 million into cyclone-affected communities
- Disaster Income Recovery Subsidy for individuals, small businesses and primary producers who have suffered a loss of income as a result of the cyclone
- Concessional loans of up to $250,000 to assist the recovery of eligible businesses and primary producers
- Freight subsidies of up to $5,000 to assist primary producers with the costs of transporting livestock, fodder, water or equipment as a result of the cyclone
- Provision of tax relief including fast-tracking refunds, deferral of payment dates and assistance with record reconstruction by the Australian Taxation Office
- Provision of more than 1,000 Australian Defence Force personnel to assist the clean-up effort, through Operation Yasi Assist.
More information about the assistance can be found at www.disasterassist.gov.au
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