Mayor misses out on PM meet
IPSWICH Mayor Paul Pisasale has lashed out at Prime Minister Julia Gillard following her visit to the flood-stricken suburb of Goodna yesterday.
Cr Pisasale said he was shocked that Ms Gillard did not invite him to meet with her while she was in Goodna or even alert him that yesterday's tour was occurring.
He said if Ms Gillard really wanted to know the breadth of issues confronting Ipswich flood victims she would have at least contacted him.
“It was just a pretend visit to try to act like she cares,” he said.
“If she really wanted to help the people of Goodna she would have phoned me to hear what they are dealing with.
“She has shamed the people of Ipswich.
“I am aware of all the different issues for flood victims in Ipswich and I know what the people need from the government and I should have at least had a phone conversation with the Prime Minister to share that information.”
Ms Gillard visited Goodna State School at 10am before meeting with residents in three homes in Goodna's devastated Bourke Court estate.
She left the estate for Oxley at 11.20am.
“Our councillor for Goodna Paul Tully lost his home in the floods and he could have told her the exact problems facing Goodna,” Cr Pisasale said.
“I have always had the greatest respect for the office of Prime Minister but no-one at my council was notified of her visit and that was disrespectful to me and the people of this city.
A spokeswoman for the Prime Minister said Ms Gillard had Federal Member for Oxley Bernie Ripoll alongside her for the tour.
“Bernie has been working closely with the mayor who has also been making a huge contribution towards helping the community rebuild from this disaster,” the spokeswoman said.
“She spent the morning listening to some of the victims of the floods to hear how the rebuilding efforts were progressing.”
The Goodna residents that Ms Gillard visited yesterday delivered her a blunt message: “We need more government assistance to recover from this disaster”.
Ms Gillard hugged several residents of Bourke Court and listened to their stories, each one of which seemed to end with a plea for more support.
The brunt of their anger was directed towards insurance companies, but Nora Hillburger, whose Bourke Court home remains without a ceiling, told Ms Gillard the State Government had barely helped her either.
“I have not received much at all from the government and I need the money from the relief appeal to start rebuilding,” she said.
“I have been told I'm eligible for $10,000 from the state which would help rebuild my kitchen, but I don't know if I'm getting that.”
Ms Gillard said much of the blame for the anguish of residents rested with “cowardly” insurance companies whom she criticised for not attending a public meeting in Booval yesterday.
“They (insurance companies) should have fronted the meeting. People at the meeting were saying we have worries, we have complaints and it was pretty cowardly for the insurance companies not to be there,” Ms Gillard said.
“We knew it was going to be a long journey. This was a huge disaster. So many people hurt, facing damage, facing rebuilding.
“To see the dimension of the damage here ... It's so tough for people.”
Help is coming
The third round of the Premier's Disaster Relief Appeal funding is imminent and will provide relief for flood victims whose homes were damaged but not destroyed.
The fund has received $250 million with $60 million already paid out in round one.
Round two payments are being distributed now and Premier's Disaster Appeal chairman David Hamill said round three would start next week.