Debbie damage bill tipped to pass billion dollar mark

The damage bill from Cyclone Debbie in Queensland is still being tallied but is expected to land somewhere in the vicinity of $1.5 billion.

Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt said the cost should end up being on par with Cyclone Oswald which hit in 2013.

Mr Pitt told the ABC that a $1.5 billion bill would leave Queensland with a net cost of about $500 million, taking into account  Commonwealth natural disaster relief payments.


Meantime Shadow Minister for Fire and Emergency Services Tim Mander said at a time when Queensland was battening down the hatches in preparation for Cyclone Debbie, the latest public service figures reveal that Queensland Fire and Emergency Services were cutting frontline staff.

He said the Public Service Commission figures were startling.

“The December quarter is the key time that should be spent building up to another potential Queensland summer of natural disasters, instead of cutting resources,” Mr Mander said.

“I’m sure the people in Central Queensland and the Gold Coast hinterland would be horrified to learn that at a time that they were gearing up to protect their homes and businesses, QFES had stripped back the frontline response team.

“How can they justify this reduction – this is the key time of the year that they should be in peak planning and preparation mode.

Mr Mander said that frontline services were in decline in so many areas and this was just another example.

“Queensland is a growing state that needs more teachers, nurses and key emergency services personnel,” Mr Mander said.

“You can’t build a better Queensland when you are stripping away key frontline services.