Flood means test fails family
FEDERAL Member for Blair Shayne Neumann has joined an Ipswich mum’s calls for the Government to rethink the means test on grants given to those trying to rebuild after the floods.
Brassall mother-of-four Rebecca Morris said she felt she and her husband Andrew were not alone in feeling as though they’d slipped through the cracks of a Federal Government relief package that should be helping working families.
The Morrises lost most of their electrical appliances and will have to rebuild large sections of their house after last month’s flood – a process which is likely to cost them tens of thousands of dollars.
With little money in the bank, the family was hoping to take advantage of the Structural Assistance Grant, which would provide a family like theirs a contribution of $14,200 towards the rebuilding process.
However the grant is means-tested and the Morrises, despite being a typical working-class family, earn too much to claim it.
Couples wanting to claim the grant must earn less than $930 per week combined, plus $51 per dependent.
Mrs Morris said the Federal Government had set the threshold too low, and most working families who were paying off a house would miss out.
“We’re lucky in a way because we know a carpenter who is fixing our house for the cost of the materials, but there are surely other people in our situation who aren’t so lucky,” she said.
“If there is going to be a means test we believe it should be set so that it includes the average working Australian.”
Mr Neumann, a member of the Labor Party, said he wholeheartedly agreed with Mrs Morris’s point and that he had already raised the subject with Assistant Treasurer Bill Shorten.
“I think we’ve got a means test that is too mean,” Mr Neumann said.
“It needs to be more flexible in its approach, and I urge the Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Treasurer Wayne Swan to look at it closely.”
The Federal Government has already given out $400 million in grants to flood victims.
In addition to the structural assistance grants, flood victims can also apply for essential household contents grants of up to $5120 for families.
Those who are struggling to meet mortgage payments can apply for a mortgage relief loan, which is up to $20,000 interest-free over 10 years, with no repayments due for the first year.