Heartbroken flood victims expose reinsurance pool failure

Dec 22, 2023

GOVERNMENT disaster funding will do little to alleviate the true financial stress Far North Queenslanders are set to endure as residents begin realising the value of their losses following severe flooding linked to Tropical Cyclone Jasper.  

Katter’s Australian Party MP Bob Katter this week spoke with heartbroken flood victims in the Innisfail area, south of Cairns, as they moved the entire contents of their homes out onto the street, while covered in mud.  

Mr Katter is laying blame directly on the failure of the reinsurance pool and calling for officials to be sacked as well as “significant government compensation” for Far Northern residents.  

While acknowledging the damage to the Cassowary Coast towns was not as severe in comparison to Cairns and communities further north, Mr Katter said residents throughout the Far North should never have been exposed to the financial stress they’re set to experience, if the reinsurance pool was operating effectively, as they rebuild their lives.  

“In just a few (residential) streets around Innisfail and Mourilyan, there would have been over half a million dollars in cars lost,” Mr Katter said.  

“And it wouldn’t be far fetched to estimate at least $10,000 worth of contents per house. Each house I stopped by – it was all out on the street – TVs, fridges, couches – everything.  

“Of course let’s not forget Cairns, the bill up there is going to be colossal.  

“And as I spoke to each resident they told me they either couldn’t afford their premiums, or had to drop flood coverage. They can’t afford the extra $10-20,000 a year.  

“Reinsurance should be operating, it was not. The government put the reinsurance pool in and hardly any insurance company gave us any benefit. 

“ASIC the body that the government employs to enforce this – I am going to do everything humanly possible to see that bosses of ASIC are punished at law. They are liable for the losses North Queenslanders are now suffering before Christmas.”  

As for the Federal Government’s response, Mr Katter said it created a situation where insurance became unaffordable, “it must now pay up.”  

He said there would need to be “significant compensation” that looked beyond the usual government disaster recovery payments.  

Mr Katter said his office had written to the Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Financial Services to discuss the flaws in the pool, but also more urgently, methods to assist Far Northerners who were either under insured or uninsured.  

Mr Katter said he would propose a community-led flood rebuild grant program be established that provides like-for-like finance assistance to the value of man-hours of clean-up work undertaken to get homes and businesses restored and repaired.