Queensland’s State Labor government has been likened to a gang of ‘bank robbers’ when it comes to natural disaster relief funding.
“They’re’ broke and cash-strapped and so desperate for money that they have been caught out trying to weasel it out of Commonwealth taxpayers,” Federal Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry said from Parliament House today.
The MP was responding to State Labor MPs claims that Queensland was vindicated over the withholding of $1 billion in disaster relief funding by the Commonwealth, until their claims had been checked by the federal auditors.
Ms Landry said contrary to the claims by Central Queensland Labor MPs – the Commonwealth has uncovered a further $50 million worth of ineligible claims lodged by Queensland.
“Any claims that recovery money has been withheld from Queensland are completely untrue. Queensland’s recovery money is still budgeted for, but we need to ensure the claims are eligible before they can be reimbursed.
“And it would seem Queensland was caught with its hand in the honey pot.”
Ms Landry backed a statement from the Federal Justice Minister Michael Keenan:
“The Commonwealth has a message for the Queensland Government and its continued blatant disregard for Australia’s taxpayers – no more rorts.
Queensland’s Government continues to fail its accountability obligations under disaster arrangements.
The Commonwealth has uncovered another $50 million, on top of a previous $115 million of ineligible claims, that the Queensland Government wanted the rest of Australia to pay for.
The Queensland Government clearly can’t be trusted, so the Commonwealth won’t hesitate to engage an independent auditor to prioritise the acquittal of all Queensland NDRRA financial claims – as has just been done.
The Queensland Government will no longer be able to submit – and expect the Commonwealth to accommodate, or Australian taxpayers to stump up for – ineligible payments.
Queensland’s own Audit Office found it rorted its 2009-2012 NDRRA claims.
Following the Commonwealth’s Audit Office examination of the administration of the NDRRA, the Attorney-General’s Department engaged an independent external auditor to undertake assurance activity on all state and territory financial claims yet to be acquitted by the Commonwealth. This included claims for Queensland for 2008-09 through to 2014-15.
As part of the 2016-17 Budget, the Commonwealth moved Queensland’s 2014-15 financial claim to the 2016-17 and 2017-18 financial years, to ensure that the funds were still budgeted for while the assurance process was underway.
At the conclusion of the assurance process, payment of any claims to the Queensland Government that proceed will now go through ordinary budget processes.
Accountability is the new black. No more pushing the Australian taxpayer into the red – and the Queensland Government better get used to it.”