Thousands of people were left without power in northern Queensland, and hundreds of properties and agricultural crops were damaged after a major storm system, Cyclone Niran, caused gale-force winds, flash flooding and heavy rain last week.
The Queensland state government has now announced that individual property owners who have suffered “significant loss” because of the cyclone can apply immediately for an Individual Disaster Stricken Property (IDSP) declaration, which makes immediate assistance available to them.
The Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities, Mark Furner, added that Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements would also be available after damage assessments are carried out to understand the level of impact (as per federal government guidelines).
He commented: “As we go through the federal government’s required assessment process, my department right now has IDSP declarations activated that mean producers can access up to $5,000 for freight costs and low-interest loans up to $250,000.
“As always, we will stand shoulder to shoulder with our farmers as they get back on their feet.”
While the majority of assessments in the Cassowary Coast region were completed at the end of last week, some of the other regions will be assessed “in the coming days” and will be ongoing.
Mr Furner praised the region’s farmers, in particular those within Queensland’s $600-million banana industry.
“We know how hard they work to put great Queensland bananas in homes across the nation, and it is tough for them when weather causes this kind of setback,” he said.
Some lenders, including ANZ, have also now announced financial support packages to help Queensland banana growers and other customers that were affected by Cyclone Niran recover from the damage.
ANZ said that customers affected by Cyclone Niran should contact the bank when able, should they require financial support.
- Pausing payments for up to three months on home loans, credit cards, personal loans and some business loans (though interest may still be charged);
- Temporary interest rate reductions on lending for customers experiencing extreme financial distress;
- Waiving fees for restructuring business loans;
- Waiving fees for accessing term deposits early; and
- Emergency funds and temporary accommodation for those with ANZ Home and Contents Insurance.
ANZ’s head of agribusiness, Mark Bennett, said: “Cyclone Niran has devastated banana crops and other farms across northern Queensland as well as services and left many communities to pick up the pieces in the aftermath.
“This is a cruel blow to those communities and the Queensland farmers who have had more than their fair share of challenges in recent times. As people manage the recovery process, we hope the relief measures we’ve announced... will assist in what is a very difficult time.”