Pollies demand tough action on flood cheats
FLOOD cheats should be hit with the full force of the law but most Ipswich residents do the right thing.
That was the word from Minister for Human Services Senator Kim Carr and Federal Member for Blair Shayne Neumann when they visited the Ipswich Human Services Centre yesterday to present a Certificate of Commendation to staff and praise the "green army" for their outstanding service and response efforts during the 2011 floods.
The QT has covered numerous stories on people who illegally claimed flood relief, with around 1000 cases now before the courts, and when asked about that situation both Mr Carr and Mr Neumann said culprits should be dealt with and prosecuted.
"They should be punished to the full extent possible," Mr Neumann said. "I think it is a disgrace and disgusting that people would take the opportunity during times of crisis in our community to exploit that for their own financial gain illegally ... when their fellow Australians are suffering so much."
Mr Neumann said "99 per cent' of people do the right thing and Mr Carr added that "the overwhelming majority of people are honest in their dealings".
"But in any system there are always some people who will rip off other people and they should be dealt with as they have been and prosecuted in accordance with the law," Mr Carr said.
Mr Neumann said, "the dark green angels of Centrelink were there in their dark green community recovery T-shirts with their ipads giving out money through the disaster relief arrangements so that money was getting into people's bank accounts at the height of the flood for food, clothing and household needs.
"There were 3000 homes and hundreds of businesses inundated in the Ipswich region and we had dozens of people from Centrelink on the ground knocking on people's doors providing counsel, relief and assistance when it was needed."
Mr Neumann and Mr Carr also announced yesterday that the Department of Human Services Agent will increase its opening hours from 17.5 to 19 hours in the Somerset Region.