Scott Morrison insists his government has not taken its foot off the pedal in trying to help north Queenslanders rebuild their lives after devastating floods.
“It’s six months on, we’re still here … and we will continue to be here in the future,” the prime minister told reporters in Giru, south of Townsville, on Thursday.
The prime minister visited the region to commit $5 million to fight a land-destroying weed, prickly acacia, which was spurred on by the February floods.
His visit was preceded by a call from Townsville’s mayor for the federal government to provide more help with flood insurance claims.
Jenny Hill is frustrated at inconsistency in the way insurance claims have been processed since the natural disaster.
“If I was to speak to Scott Morrison today, I would say, ‘you need to help us sort the insurance dilemma out for north Queensland sooner rather than later’,” the mayor told the ABC’s AM program on Thursday.
About 60 per cent of insurance claims have been closed, with estimated losses of more than $1.2 billion.
Insurance Council of Australia head of risk and operations Karl Sullivan said the industry was ahead of past response times for a natural disaster, despite Townsville’s remoteness.
“However, the industry acknowledges a small number of customers may be experiencing issues,” he said.
Ms Hill said the city was also still waiting to see if a large chunk of $242 million in grants would be approved, with council bringing forward funding for recovery projects in the meantime.
Mr Morrison said if the council wants to access the $242 million, they simply needed to ask Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.
“All the money is with the state government. She just needs to knock on the door,” he said.
Ms Hill said Townsville lost nearly 10 per cent of its housing stock during the flood, with more than half of affected residents still displaced.
Ongoing issues with body corporates in some dwellings and businesses also needed to be addressed, the mayor said.
“This is where we need some real action at the federal level,” Ms Hill said.
The prime minister acknowledged challenges exist in rebuilding after the floods, which will be a “generational task” for some.
But he hopes the funding to tackle prickly acacia will make inroads for that particular issue.
“All the threats of the prickly acacia sit right in Queensland and that’s why it’s so important for us to work together to get this problem solved now, so it doesn’t become a huge problem in the future,” Mr Morrison said.
More than $100 million in special grants and loans to assist people in the disaster-affected area has been allocated.
Several people died and up to 500,000 cattle are believed to have drowned in the widespread floods.
The Morrison government has committed $3.3 billion to help people affected by the disaster.