The New South Wales premier, Dominic Perrottet, has accused the federal government of again treating flood victims differently based on their location, in a renewed stoush over emergency response funding.
Perrottet on Monday announced grants of up to $20,000 to help uninsured owners and renters make their homes habitable again, saying NSW was funding the whole package because residents could not wait any longer for federal authorities to act.
The prime minister, Scott Morrison, on Tuesday said he had told the premier that the commonwealth was willing to split costs on “the one-in-500-year flood event”.
“Our offer remains that we would meet those one-in-500-year flood costs for those impacted properties,” he said, pointing to promises of $2.1 billion in support for the recovery so far.
But in an interview with ABC radio on Wednesday, Perrottet suggested that could rule out some victims of recent flooding.
“There seems to be people who were disqualified for that funding from the federal government based on where they live,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter if you’ve lost your home in Lismore or you’ve lost your home in Mullumbimby. You’re in the same position and you should receive the same financial assistance.”
The federal Coalition was last month widely criticised, including by members of its own parties, for offering additional disaster funding to flood victims in Lismore and not nearby Tweed, Byron and Ballina shires. The government later agreed to extend the extra funding to those communities following an assessment by the National Recovery and Resilience Agency.
Perrottet, who has been in the flood-hit northern rivers since he returned from paternity leave on Monday, admitted the ongoing negotiations with federal counterparts over flood recovery grants had been “frustrating”.
The premier confirmed he had received an offer of more help from Morrison for one of the programs and he would “work through the details”.
“We’ve requested further assistance from from the commonwealth. I just want to make sure that we give it as much support as we can,” he said on Wednesday.
Speaking earlier on Wednesday, the federal emergency management minister Bridget McKenzie said the governments had been working together at an “unprecedented” level.
She reiterated that her government was willing to support the NSW government’s scheme for uninsured residents.
“But the PM has made clear that it’s for the one-in-500-year flood event,” she said.
The response to the flooding events will be scrutinised in an independent inquiry due to report later this year.
Meanwhile, the SES has issued a severe weather warning for heavy rainfall for people across large parts of the state including in Sydney, the Illawarra and parts of the Hunter on Wednesday.