Fight for Kiwi access to Queensland flood relief

Last updated 16:04 19/01/2011

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Government efforts to secure emergency funding for New Zealand flood victims in Queensland has hit a road block, with Australia saying the consequences of opening up the fund would have flow on effects.

Foreign Minister Murray McCully told NZPA there were several programmes, two at a federal level and four at a state level, that flood victims had access to.

However, the Australian Government Disaster Relief Payment, a federal programme that included payments of A$1000 per adult and A$400 per child affected by the floods, was not available to people who arrived in Australia after February 26, 2001.

Mr McCully said the Government had spoken to its Australian counterpart about making an exception for New Zealanders.

"They've come back to us with information that demonstrates the flow on effects of them making an exception here, and we're trying to get some subsequent advice on whether we can recommend a way they could quarantine the disaster relief payment from other benefits," he said.

"Broadly speaking, we've asked for New Zealand citizens to be treated on the same basis as Australian citizens, and we've been working through the various programmes to ascertain that we get that objective met to the fullest possible extent."

In the meantime, Mr McCully said the Government was trying to make sure adequate funding was available to New Zealanders through the state programmes.

"What I'm more focussed on at the moment is whether we can, as a substitute, ensure that one of the four Queensland programmes can deliver any support that might be required by New Zealanders which they can not receive because of their inability to access the Disaster Relief Payment at the moment."

Te Korowai Aroha, a Queensland-based Maori organisation, said the funding could not come fast enough.

Secretary Christel Broederlow said the organisation had been approached by New Zealanders who had lost everything and were already facing financial hardship.

"They've got no furniture, no bedding, no clothing - everything's been destroyed. That financial aid is going to help them just get the bare essentials."

Ms Broederlow said she was appalled that New Zealanders who had been paying taxes for nearly 10 years were ineligible for the payment.

"You would think in a disaster there wouldn't even be a question of that," she said.

"Nobody's asking to get on the dole, it's just an immediate disaster relief fund that people need."

Ms Broederlow said it was a relief to hear the New Zealand Government was talking with Australia.

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"Now it's a matter of can something be done about it."

- NZPA

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