Queensland’s “summer of disasters” is evidence of climate change and will take an economic toll on taxpayers, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says.
Ms Palaszczuk said the state budget is estimated to take a hit of at least $1.5 billion after catastrophic bushfires and floods ravaged Queensland over the past three months.
The $1.5 billion damage bill includes repairs to infrastructure such as the rail network and the cost of emergency assistance and grants.
During a speech in Brisbane, Ms Palaszczuk said the scale of the disasters was proof the climate was changing.
“Let’s be clear, our climate has already changed,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“You do not get a level of catastrophic [for bushfires] in Queensland … [that] is something that we haven’t seen before.”
Treasurer Jackie Trad said the state government was going through the process of factoring in the massive cost to the Queensland budget.
“We will do a whole range of things. We will look at savings internally. We will look at underspends,” Ms Trad said.
She said the state had to “stump up” the money now to start rebuilding.
“That’s what we have to do.”
Federal government has ‘policy paralysis’
Ms Palaszczuk also took a swipe at the federal government for its stance on climate change and accused it of ignoring facts and having “policy paralysis” on the issue.
“Ideological blindness has immediate real world consequences for Australians,” she said.
“We need a federal government that accepts the climate science around climate change and will put in place policy that will reflect our targets.”
Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said Ms Palaszczuk’s speech on Tuesday meant the state budget may have to slug taxpayers to cover damage costs.
“Labor’s economic mismanagement means it hasn’t done the work and Annastacia Palaszczuk needs to immediately rule out raising or introducing new taxes,” Ms Frecklington said.
“We fear Annastacia Palaszczuk is now laying the groundwork to slug Queenslanders more tax because Labor is bad with money.
“We believe the climate is changing but this shouldn’t be used an excuse to do nothing. It means the government must prepare properly, including financially, for natural disasters.”