The Crest of the Commonwealth of Australia Treasury Portfolio Ministers
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Wayne Swan

Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer

3 December 2007 - 27 June 2013

23 April 2011


Joint Media Release
Senator The Hon Joe Ludwig
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
Minister Assisting the Attorney-General on Queensland Floods Recovery
Senator The Hon Jan Mclucas
Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers

Wage Assistance Extended for Communities Hit by Cyclone Yasi

Acting Prime Minister and Treasurer Wayne Swan announced further support for communities ravaged by Tropical Cyclone Yasi today.

The Acting Prime Minister announced that:

  • Wage assistance for employers hit by Cyclone Yasi would extend for another 13 weeks to a total of 26 weeks.
  • The due date for applications will be extended from 13 May to 30 June.
  • The boundary of the area eligible for assistance will be extending to include the part of Cairns Regional Council south of 17 degrees latitude south.

There's a real risk that if we don't back employers to keep workers in jobs, then workers will be forced to leave their communities and families to find work.

This extra assistance will help to keep communities together - and mean that families can stay together - while business gets back on its feet.

These measures are designed to address the unique issues faced by Far North Queensland communities recovering from this disaster.

The region faces big economic challenges over the coming months because of its reliance on a few key industries, such as sugar and bananas, which can take quite a while to recover.

The resilience shown by North and Far North Queensland in the aftermath of Yasi makes me really proud to be a Queenslander, but there is a still a long way to go - we need to remember that things don't go back to normal overnight.

Wage assistance is a payment paid to an employer at the rate of the Newstart allowance ($469.70 per fortnight).

Businesses, primary producers and non-profit organisations are eligible for assistance if they:

  • have their principal place of operation in the local Government Areas of Cassowary Coast, Hinchinbrook or parts of Tablelands and defined regions of Etheridge, Flinders and Charters Towers or the new part of Cairns Regional Council;
  • were directly damaged by Cyclone Yasi and they intend to get back up and running;
  • can show that they were viable financially before the Cyclone and will be again after, even at reduced capacity; and
  • can demonstrate that the business would not have been able to retain its employees without the Wage Assistance and can name the employees in the positions for which they are making the claim.

The Government flagged that it would consider extending wage assistance if required when it first announced its initial assistance package after Cyclone Yasi hit.

Centrelink will re-assess applications made previously by businesses in the areas that are now eligible as a result of this decision and advise applicants whether they are now eligible for assistance.

Making a change to the due date for applications is a small but important change that recognises the practicalities of people's situations. The Gillard Government has worked to ensure that red tape doesn't get in the way of much needed support.

23 April 2011