Monday 24 January 2011

A mean means test from Premier Bligh for flooded residents

Queensland's Premier clawed back a few points in teh aftermath of the floods, as she sounded sympathetic and supportive, however that will all be lost after she's rolling out a discriminatory and mean means test for flood victims to swallow.

Bligh has said she will not apologise for means testing the financial aid for those affected by the January floods throughout the State.

"Those worst hit need the most help," Anna Bligh says. This means that a substantial number, probably well over 50% at some estimates, will not receive any financial help from the Government. This is after the initial $4000 from Centrelink and the Disaster Relief Appeal fund.

Those with a combined annual income of more than $48,400, or have too many assets, will not be entitled to the $5000 grant, regardless if their home was destroyed in the floods. The grant is to help uninsured home owners. For singles, the means test will be just $36,600.

"The payments were modeled on State-Federal arrangements and were to ensure the 'neediest get the most'," Bligh said.

"[She's] got her means test policy badly wrong," John-Paul Langbroek of the opposition says. "The Premier needed to recognise that her $48,400 cut-off was simply too low. Queenslanders need flood assistance grants they can access now."

Langbroek says most families won’t qualify because the income limit is too low. Most households have joint incomes above $49,000.

“The sentiment from Queenslanders and Australians is that we should be helping these people. But with reports indicating up to 60% will not be covered by insurance and have lost everything, the Premier needs to significantly raise the cut-off level for household income," Langbroek says. “In these extraordinary circumstances we should try to help as many people as we can and I suggest the joint-income cut-off should be at least $100,000."

“Let’s get on with helping those people by having grants that are available to most families. Unfair restrictions only serve to upset families who already have enough stress in their lives," John-Paul Langbroek said. “These families have houses they can’t live in …their furniture and most of their belongings have been ruined and now they’re probably paying rent on top of a mortgage. In fact, in some cases, the mortgage may well be higher than the value of the home."

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