Treasurer slams greedy residents

IPSWICH residents who claimed $1000 in emergency aid for flood victims when they only suffered power outages have been labelled “low-lifes”.

Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan made the comment yesterday as backlash grows against the Centrelink criteria for the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment.

People that lost power for 48 hours during the recent disaster, but suffered no flood damage, are able to claim the payment of $1000 per adult and $400 for children.

Not only do claimants receive the payment, but automatically become exempt from paying the upcoming flood tax levy.

“If there are people who have been eligible for the levy but haven't required it and have gone in and claimed it, I think they are simply low-lifes,” Mr Swan said.

The Queensland Times has received numerous calls and letters from readers furious that the recovery payments were being claimed by residents who saw no floodwater enter their properties.

LNP Member for Wright Scott Buchholz, whose electorate takes in the devastated Lockyer Valley region, said the guidelines for receiving the payment could have been made harder.

Mr Buchholz said there were always going to be people who tried to abuse the system.

“If they do, that's a decision they will make and one they will have to live with,” he said.

Dwayne Williamson, 32, lost his East Ipswich home in the floods.

He said it was frustrating for genuine flood victims to hear of people taking advantage of the system.

“Some people are really struggling after losing everything in the floods. It should go to them,” Mr Williamson said.

Member for Blair Shayne Neumann said people eligible for the payments should claim them, but said people should not take advantage of the relief money.

“If you are eligible and haven't had any damage, use some commonsense,” he said.

“If you are dishonest and fraudulently claiming the payments, Centrelink will hunt you down.”

Mr Neumann backed Mr Swan's claim that the decision to include loss of power for 48 hours as a guideline for receiving the payment was the right thing to do.

“If we were to get really bureaucratic, with really rigid rules in the first 48 hours or so, then we would be having an entirely different discussion about how we were too rigid and weren't paying people who were in dire need,” Mr Swan said.

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