Many communities in Queensland have been affected by flooding caused by Cyclone Debbie. (ABC News: Louisa Rebgetz)
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has described the nation’s foreign aid budget as important to Australia’s international diplomacy efforts, amid calls to halt funds flowing overseas in the wake of natural disasters in Queensland and New South Wales.
- Nationals MP George Christensen says Queenslanders are having trouble accessing disaster-relief payments
- Mr Christensen criticises decision to commit $320 million in foreign aid to Afghanistan
- Malcolm Turnbull says foreign aid is “a very important part of international diplomacy”
Outspoken Nationals MP George Christensen has argued Queenslanders dealing with the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Debbie are struggling to access Government support payments.
“It’s an absolute insult to people who have already suffered horrendous losses to then be abandoned by those who are supposed to help,” Mr Christensen said in a statement.
“People had their homes blown to pieces, flooded, and left without electricity for more than 10 days but have been denied disaster relief funding.
“Meanwhile, they hear on the news that Australia has just committed another $320 million in foreign aid to Afghanistan.”
Mr Turnbull did not comment directly on Mr Christensen’s demands, but said Australia was “a generous and responsible foreign aid donor”.
“It is a very important part of our international diplomacy, it’s a very important part of our role as a responsible and effective global citizen,” the Prime Minister said
“The floods in Queensland have been shocking, and indeed in New South Wales.
“Substantial relief has always been paid by the Commonwealth Government and state governments for disaster relief.”
‘Not one dollar should be spent on foreigners’
The residents of George Christensen’s electorate, Mackay, were hit hard by Cyclone Debbie. (ABC News: Nick Haggarty)
Mr Christensen argued some disaster-relief payments had not been made available to those hit by the cyclone, which range from $5,000 for not-for-profit organisations to $25,000 for farmers.
“Until this is sorted, not one dollar should be spent on foreigners.”
He suggested the foreign community would understand the need to prioritise the recovery effort.
Mr Christensen’s National party colleague Kevin Hogan made similar calls on Friday. His electorate of Page includes flood-ravaged areas of northern New South Wales.
“We give this money to countries at times when they have problems,” he said.
“Well we have our own. I think charity in these cases should begin at home. Once areas like ours have been rebuilt and repaired after a natural disaster, obviously we can resume foreign aid.”