MP claims Cyclone Debbie victims falsely denied disaster relief

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk in Mackay on Saturday, April 1, 2017 after Ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk in Mackay on Saturday, April 1, 2017 after Ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie. Madolyn Peters

SOME Cyclone Debbie victims were told they were ineligible for hardship assistance thanks to a software glitch, MP George Christensen has said.

Mr Christensen issued a statement urging the Queensland Government to urgently get their systems right and send more staff to process payments face to face instead of via a call centre.

READ: Where and how to get disaster assistance.

He said some residents in the worst-hit areas including Airlie Beach, Cannonvale, Proserpine, Bowen and Mackay were told they weren't eligible for the payments.

"My advice from the office of the State Minister responsible is that this is due to software glitches. While I have also been told that the problem has now been rectified, there are probably hundreds of people who have been denied when they are stressed out and hurting, and it is truly disgraceful," he said.

"I made calls on Friday when I was first alerted to the situation, and yesterday as the problem continued to escalate I have been on to both the office of the State Minister for Communities who is responsible for administering the payments, and my Federal counterpart the Minister for Justice to urge further action."

Mr Christensen said the jointly funded National Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangement was administered by the State Government.

"That started off badly and only got worse as more and more people were let down," he said.
Mr Christensen, a federal MP, urged Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to send more staff for face-to-face payment applications.

"I am told that the process is generally going smoothly when people attend one of the community centres to claim a payment face-to-face but I am also told there are queues streaming out the door at some of these centres," he said.

Ms Palaszczuk visited Mackay and the Whitsundays on Saturday to inspect the damage wrought by Cyclone Debbie.

News Regional Media has attempted to contact the Minister for Communities Shannon Fentiman and Minister for Emergency Services Mark Ryan.

Topics:  cyclone debbie editors picks mackay weather

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