COMMUNITY PROTEST: Bronwyn Taha leads a protest over Category D funding outside Member for Whitsunday Jason Costigan's office last week.
COMMUNITY PROTEST: Bronwyn Taha leads a protest over Category D funding outside Member for Whitsunday Jason Costigan's office last week. Sharon Smallwood

Community rallies for disaster funds

DIVINE retribution is what one Whitsunday resident thinks the Australian Government deserves for deserting the region in the wake of Cyclone Debbie.

"I really hope if there's a God, that he sends the next (Cyclone) Debbie to Canberra," Warren Hardy said.

Mr Hardy lives in Hydeaway Bay, a place he describes as one of the suburbs worst affected by the Category 4 storm.

And like many others in the Whitsunday community, he believes the Federal Government's unwillingness to match State funding for disaster relief is simply "playing politics" with people's lives.

"(Cyclone Debbie was) supposed to be one of the worst disasters to hit Australia's coastline in history," he said.

"People out there are suffering the stress of it. Their spirit's been shattered.

The State Government's not playing politics with this - they've offered the money and to the enormous embarrassment of (Federal Dawson MP) George Christensen I think, and (State Whitsunday MP) Jason Costigan, (the Federal Government is) trying to defend the indefensible.

"The indefensible is they are not trying to come up with anything like what the State Government's offering."

Mr Hardy made these statements amid a protest outside Member for Whitsunday Jason Costigan's Proserpine office on Friday.

The protest was led by Labor candidate for Whitsunday, Bronwyn Taha, who said while Dawson MP George Christensen represented the region at a federal level, Mr Costigan, the State Opposition MP, should be doing more to help.

"We need more money from Canberra and less talking from Jason Costigan," Ms Taha said. 

"It's very easy to go on Facebook and whinge and whine about something...(but) that doesn't deliver.

"It's all talk and no action."

Mr Costigan, who didn't appear to be in his office at the time, retorted by saying his rival was "delusional, mixed up, confused".

"She ran for Federal Parliament, ran for State Parliament (and) now thinks that I'm running for Federal Parliament," he said.

"This is Canberra dudding us - she needs to get a map out, find out where George's office is and go and have her little circus outside his place."

But Ms Taha rejected this notion.

"I know that he's the State MP, I know it doesn't sit with him, but he's the voice for our community right now and he needs to do everything he can to get this full funding released," she said. 

Those with her, many of whom had put their names to a 500-signature petition to this effect, expanded on her point of view.

Mark Flanagan, from Midge Point, accepted Mr Costigan wouldn't have "a lot of sway" with his Labor rivals.

"But obviously his colleagues with the Federal Government will take his voice if he puts it forward correctly," he said. 

"He is the representative of this community and therefore he should be pushing the case."

Dolph Lossberg, president of the Midge Point Fishing Club, said Mr Costigan, "or whoever represents Whitsunday" and George Christensen representing Dawson, "they've got to stand up for this area".

"That's what we voted them in for and quite frankly if they don't stand up the people of this area are just going to vote them out. It's that simple," he said.

Ms Taha reiterated this was "just not good enough".

"I think Canberra needs to release all the money and Jason Costigan needs to stop talking about this and do something about it," she said.

On learning that Mr Costigan had written to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that same day, Ms Taha said although it took a rally and a petition he had "finally taken some action".

"The test will be whether or not these are just words or if the LNP will actually match the funding of the Palaszczuk Labor Government that our region so desperately needs," she said.


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