Nanango MP questions flood fund rejects

Member for Nanango, Deb Frecklington says many flood grant applications by primary producers and small businesses are being declined by the Queensland Labor Government.

Mrs Frecklington said she has asked two Questions on Notice to the Minister for Agriculture in relation to the Extraordinary Disaster Assistance Grants, being administered by QRIDA, following concerns about the guidelines and many reports of applications being rejected.

“I am very concerned by feedback I am receiving from primary producers about their applications for flood disaster grants not being approved on the basis of not meeting the eligible item criteria,” Mrs Frecklington said.

“This is leaving producers with large bills for equipment and services which they understood would be eligible, but have now been told do not meet the criteria.

“The main example is the purchase of equipment, which according to the guidelines is allowed. However it seems the fine print, which is not available to applicants, is resulting in some equipment purchases being deemed ineligible by QRIDA.

“I asked the Minister if a clearer and more detailed set of guidelines could be provided, however, this has not occurred.

“My second question tried to get to the bottom of why there have been so many applications that have been declined, with 20 per cent of primary producers and 33 per cent of small business rejected.

“The answer did not shine any real light on the main reason, but it would appear ineligible items are one of the areas for concern.

“If the guidelines were clearer, it would make it much simpler for primary producers to understand what items they can claim, rather than purchasing very expensive equipment only to find equipment purchases are not being honoured.

“To have an application rejected is extremely stressful for primary producers and small businesses owners who have already suffered so much loss with the floods.

“There is also a large amount of time and effort which goes into these grants and to then have to turn around and make an appeal is extremely hard,” Mrs Frecklington said.

Minister Mark Furner responded to Mrs Frecklington, saying a review of the arrangements is in the pipeworks but those who had been rejected should look to appeal the decision.

“The DRFA guidelines are set by the Federal Government, and the new Federal Labor Government has already announced a review of these arrangements,“ Minister Furner said.

“Over the last year the most common reasons primary producer applications were rejected were that the applicant was not a primary producer or primary production enterprise, or that insufficient details were provided on the application.

“For small business applications, insufficient information or no actual loss suffered were the key reasons applications could not proceed.

“QRIDA, which manages the application process, urges people whose applications are rejected to take advantage of the appeal process,“ he said.