Cyclone Debbie likely to cost Queensland $1.5 billion

According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), Queensland’s upcoming budget is expected to take a $1.5 billion hit from Cyclone Debbie, Treasurer Curtis Pitt says, despite the overall damage bill to private and public infrastructure predicted to reach $2 billion.
Mr Pitt said a $1.5 billion loss in coal exports, a $120–180 million hit to Whitsundays tourism, $270 million damage to cane and other crops, a well as damage to public and private property has put the total repair bill at a predicted $2 billion.
The loss to the public purse through damage to public infrastructure and property alongside compensation payouts to homeowners and producers would be an estimated $1.5 billion, Mr Pitt said, on par with Cyclone Oswald in 2013.
The state will absorb that in the June budget and the Queensland Government waits to be reimburse by the Federal Government’s Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements.
Mr Pitt said the eventual net cost to Queensland is predicted to be $500 million.
“The losses should be offset by recovery-related activity, including insurance payouts, work by tradespeople, the Personal Hardship Assistance Scheme, rebuilding public infrastructure and a short-term boost to coal prices,” he said.
“The budget will contain an estimate of Cyclone Debbie’s impact on forecast economic growth, resulting from economic losses estimated at approximately $2 billion.
“The exact financial impact of cyclone Debbie and the associated flooding, in terms of spending, that was [compared] against Tropical Cyclone Oswald.
Mr Pitt said the exact financial impact on this year’s budget will ultimately be determined by the state’s Queensland Reconstruction Authority.
The cyclone crossed the coast on March 28 as a category-four system, and subsequent flooding affected communities from the Whitsundays to the New South Wales border.
The number of people needing help after the cyclone came in higher than those affected in Cyclone Yasi in 2011.
There were 72,000 calls for assistance, the latest data showed.
Source:  Francis Tapim, ABC