PM applauds spirit as ‘cruel lottery’ strikes
PRIME Minister Scott Morrison has likened the devastation of homes across Townsville as a "cruel lottery" but says he's confident the community's resilience will see the city through.
Speaking exclusively to the Bulletin after visiting flood-affected residents, Mr Morrison said he was struck by how varied the damage to houses had been.
"There's I suppose a cruelty to the lottery of how these things impact us, just walking down one street looking at how it's impacted people, at one end (people's houses are ruined) at the other end, they're fine," he said.
"The thing about that is those who were at the (undamaged) end of the street, the first thing they said was: 'Well that means we're going to be able to help people at the other end of the street.' But that's what you'd expect to see."
Mr Morrison said it was too early to say if a rethink of the flood-preparedness of infrastructure was required.
"I think there's already many lessons that have been learnt," he said.
Mr Morrison said the Federal Government would be "keeping the pressure" on insurance companies to "do the right thing".
"I have no reason to think that they won't," he said.
"(Insurance companies) will be here, they've activated catastrophe arrangements, Centrelink is here processing payments, the Red Cross is here, people are getting support, but I still think the community's in shock phase at the moment."
Mr Morrison said restarting normal routines such as getting children back to school would help the city's mental health.
"I can see Townsville, through its resilience and strength, getting back in on its feet quickly, but not easily," he said.
Mr Morrison said the most pressing issues were minimising health risks associated with floodwaters and restoring power to homes.
"It will be some time before some people will be able to stay in their homes," he said.
Mr Morrison said a key component of the early recovery process was the disaster support payments of up to $1000 an adult now available to flood-affected residents.
"(We're) ensuring we can roll out those disaster recovery payments and allowances as appropriate," he said.
Assistant Minister for Home Affairs Linda Reynolds said the Commonwealth would work closely with the Queensland Government in the coming weeks and months to discuss necessary funding for infrastructure and other issues that might arise.
"I think one of the really important things at this stage is to get the message out as much as possible about the (disaster relief) payments," she said.