Townsville’s mayor has urged Scott Morrison to provide more help with flood insurance claims ahead of the Prime Minister’s visit to the north Queensland city.
Mr Morrison is in the region on Thursday to commit $5 million to fight back against a land-destroying weed, prickly acacia, which was spurred on by the February floods.
But the city’s mayor, Jenny Hill, is frustrated there is 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’,” she 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.
“Several insurance companies have a permanent presence in the city or have set up shops to help their customers when they need it,” he said.
“However, the industry acknowledges a small number of customers may be experiencing issues.”
Ms Hill said the city was 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.
She 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.
Mr Morrison said the funding to tackle prickly acacia was about ensuring a long-term reconstruction plan to deal with the fallout from the floods.
“We all knew this would be tough, but we’re committed to being here for north Queenslanders every step of the way in the recovery,” he 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.