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Should reconstruction be funded by taxes?

11:20 UK time, Friday, 21 January 2011

Australia's Prime Minister Julia Gillard has raised the prospect of a one-off tax to help pay for the devastation wrought by severe flooding. Is it right to tax residents to pay for a natural disaster?

Ms Gillard told Australian television that there would be spending cutbacks and a possible levy, and that she was determined to balance the budget as well as rebuild shattered communities.

But opposition leader Tony Abbott said "there's a right way and a wrong way to find that money," and suggested that the government should cut back its own spending before taxing Australians, and scrap the controversial A$36bn broadband network plan.

How should governments raise money to cover reconstructions costs? Is keeping the budget balanced a priority after a disaster? Was Australia well prepared for the flood disaster?

Thank you for your comments. This debate is now closed.

Comments

Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    When I worked in Australia I paid 51.5% tax, I don't think you can screw any more out of the tax payers. Let the resoure minners pay for it.

  • Comment number 2.

    Should reconstruction be funded by taxes?

    How else are you going to fund government expenditure?

    If the BBC has got some brilliant alternative to tax then perhaps they should start being self sufficient.

  • Comment number 3.

    In view of the scale of the flooding in Australia, I cannot see what options they have. Of course the government should look to its own spending as well.

    I understand (not sure) that many did not have insurance - extremely hard for them. On the other hand, a relief to those who do have insurance because this cannot be a reason for insurance costs to rise.

    Do countries keep a disaster fund in place for themselves rather than foreign aid? If they do, I imagine not many would keep that much in hand, it would have somehow been used.

  • Comment number 4.

    Sadly the australian government along with insurance companies cannot pay such a bill on their own, ultimatley the people with all need to contribute to re building, not only that imagine the families who were affected - lost everything, their premium for home ins will be sky high going forward. I think Australia will be requiring donations, no doubt cameron will hand over a few million after all Australia is part of the comonwealth

  • Comment number 5.

    It should be a mixture of spending cuts and taxes, wherever projects can be postponed they should be, but the scale of the disaster probably means they need more cash. It's not as if the Government has it's own cash, the money belongs to the nation, the nation is damaged, so the nation pays whichever route is taken.
    I've no doubt there will be the "I'm all right jack "(tory type) attitude but I'm sure these people would expect help if the deluge came to them.

  • Comment number 6.

    Seeing that all "government money" comes from the tax-payer anyway and that the government is primarily responsible for ensuring the country's infrastructure is sound and functional, what is the point of the question?

  • Comment number 7.

    IM VERY WARY OF THE WORD TAX. ONCE A TAX IS INTRODUCED IT NEVER SEEMS TO GO AWAY AND USUALLY INCREASES. WELL IT DOES IN BRITAIN.I CANT SPEAK FOR AUSTRALIA BUT IN BRITAIN IT SEEMS THAT THE MORE MONEY YOU HAVE THE LESS TAX YOU PAY BECAUSE OF TAX LOOPHOLES AND CRAFTY ACCOUNTANTS.GOVERNMENTS AND INSURANCE COMPANIES CANT HAVE GOOD TIMES ALL THE TIME SO WHEN DISASTER STRIKES THERE SHOULD BE ENOUGH IN THE POT TO PUT THINGS RIGHT.SADLY INSURANCE COMPANIES ALWAYS COME UP WITH EXCUSES. SO IM AGAINST TAX FOR DISASTERS UNLESS THE TAX SYSTEM WAS FAIR AND THATS NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN.

  • Comment number 8.

    One-off, defined as only once, add tax to make it.. One-off-tax. You then you can make it a one-off for as much as you like. H`mmm a new one-off to be added to the Dictionary.

  • Comment number 9.

    why aren't we helping them? like we help pakistan etc? or do we just not care about Australia because there not Muslim!

  • Comment number 10.

    Of course it's right! What is the point in complicating something when it doesn't need to be complicated? Australians should want to 'donate' to this cause and if they don't, they are totally unable to see past their own nose! They should set things like this up for many things! I wish the government would just tax everybody in the country £20 one month this year and hey presto, we just made a massive amount of cash in one month! When will people (and I'm not implying that this would be the case in Australia) start to accept and be cool with the fact that we should all play our part and move on!

  • Comment number 11.

    Any decent taxpayer should be willing to help get those areas of Australia that have suffered terrible devastation back their on their feet. Apart from sympathy for the victims, it is in everybody's interest that reconstruction should go ahead as quickly as possible. Having to abandon the misguided attempt to reduce the public deficit by cutting expenditure will be a beneficial side effect.

    The Australian opposition party must be even more nasty than our own Tory party if they are seriously opposing these measures.

  • Comment number 12.

    Tax those who can most afford it.

  • Comment number 13.

    So the options are borrow money on the never never or claw it back from the country quickly as a short sharp tax shock.

    Neither works - long term borrowing will bog the country down, short sharp shock could kill the economy and who do they expect to pay to repair their infrastructure.

    In the UK we have a mentality that the State should fix everything, why ?

    If we accept that we pay the taxes to fund this State altruism - but we dont.

    So find a middle ground borrow short term to get the thing fixed and the economy back to operation but apply real measures to pay back the borrowed money as soon as possible.

    If Britian had understood that we might not be in the state we are in.

  • Comment number 14.

    I don't understand the intent of this topic. ALL activity from Government is paid for by the taxpayer. It is foolish, perhaps stupid, to assume otherwise. If the people of Australia feel that providing rebuilding assistance to the victims is a national priority, then they WILL pay for it, regardless of the politician's efforts to make it seem like it is free to the ignorant.

    Does this topic indicate total ignorance of governmental/public economics on the part BBC employees? Probably.

  • Comment number 15.

    Recovering from a major incident cum disaster invariably costs a great deal. One way of doing this is for Central Govt to maintain a Disasters Contingency Fund to pay for aspects of the 'recovery'. However, the sheer scale of some events, both in scale and levels of damage will mean that this is unlikely to be enough. In that event, funding over and above that normally raised by Government might be necessary. Disaster Appeal funds might help alleviate the problem, but ultimately some form of levy might be necessary. Provided such a levy goes towards recovery, and not as is so often the case into Treasury coffers - there to be squandered by the political classes - that would be acceptable. Sadly, our record of spending taxpayers money wisely and well is pretty awful so, for that reason, I would be against such a special tax.

  • Comment number 16.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 17.

    Something should have been done years ago, after all these were not the first time it had happened, there were worse floods thirty or forty years ago. Geographically it is an area prone to flooding. A fact recognised by the insurance underwriters and house builders. Very few people were insured as no private insurance company gives cover to those at increased risk.
    The Chinese had similar problems years ago with flooding with many many killed. It took massive government planning and dam building but they have cut the risks greatly. Whether or not the Australians can do it has yet to be seen. The biggest problem is that houses are now built in areas previously uninhabitated. Locally new houses have been built on the bank of a river in our nearsest town, there were no houses on these fields for good reason, because they were known to flood from time to time.
    Australia has always been an inhospitable place to live particularly in the north. If this were not so the people of eastern Asia would have moved in many centuries ago. These natural difficulties for habitation have to be sorted as the geographical problems don't disappear just because people decide to live there

  • Comment number 18.

    It sounds honorable on the surface but approach with extreme caution. Many a governments have used this same strategy only to stretch it out and utilize it as a never ending piggy-bank.

  • Comment number 19.

    Well, the shortfall in insurance payouts ought to be picked up by society, which means the taxpayers, given that governments have no ability to create wealth.

    Who else is going to pay, after all?

  • Comment number 20.

    12. At 12:08pm on 21 Jan 2011, chrislabiff wrote:
    Tax those who can most afford it.
    ________________________________________
    Could people get any more jealous or resentful of rich or successful people? They should never be punished or singled out because of this. I guess some people are just not team players...shame

  • Comment number 21.

    Windfall tax on the profits of polluting mining/energy companies (contributors to climate change). Minimal one-off tax on others depending on income.

  • Comment number 22.

    So where else would the money come from? Doubt if private investors would be prepared to stump up the billions required, given there can only be minimal returns!

  • Comment number 23.

    It has to be paid for one way or another. (Something Labourites will have difficulty understanding).

    A tax seems a reasonable solution, as long as it's a one-off. If there are things that can be postponed, that might be a good thing to do as well. The problem is that it would cost about £500 per person (whether working or not) to pay for the whole thing, which is quite a big chunk. So, I would expect it to be split between extra taxation and cuts in other, less important, expenditure.

  • Comment number 24.

    Another top drawer question from the BBC

    As most governments act as self Insurers there is no other way to raise the cash for the infrastructure of the country

    I wonder what qualifications you need to work on the BBC HYS team, My Monkey needs a Job?

  • Comment number 25.

    tax to help rebuild a broken country area, well yes, of course. how else do the BBC think those who lost so much can get back on their feet without a massive raising of insurance? BBC use tax money to fund their parties and fun, so do shut up and keep on the track BBC

  • Comment number 26.

    10. At 12:03pm on 21 Jan 2011, hardatwork wrote:

    I wish the government would just tax everybody in the country £20 one month this year and hey presto, we just made a massive amount of cash in one month!"

    In the UK that would only raise £1.4 billion (assuming everyone, from newborns to centenarians pays). So you'd have to tax people £2000 each to just about make up the annual budget overspend.

  • Comment number 27.

    Yet another reason for the decision on what to spend the tax we pay to be handed over to the voter. If we all voted on where our taxes were spent, we'd have fantastic health services, brilliant infrastructures, and we'd not be fighting wars anymore. And there'd be a big pot in reserve for eventualities like this.




  • Comment number 28.

    Absolutely. This is what government is for - ensuring people have access to clean water, electricity, food, shelter and security. And if it means less money for 'child obesity denormalisation co-ordinators', 'sustainable travel promotion managers', 'carbon footprint reduction teams' or any of the numerous other trendy social engineering projects the authorities have misappropriated over recent years whilst neglecting the basic tasks they were elected to perform, so much the better. The alternative is to rely on the private sector for reconstruction - and if I recall correctly, that didn't work out too well in New Orleans.

  • Comment number 29.

    I think the UK should give Australia some aid. After all, if we can give India aid whilst India spends money on a space programme then Australia are a more than worthy recipient.

  • Comment number 30.

    9. At 12:00pm on 21 Jan 2011, scotty1694 wrote:
    why aren't we helping them? like we help pakistan etc? or do we just not care about Australia because there not Muslim!

    *************************

    here here ! Im sure if you asked most brits where aid is sent they would be happier for there hard working tax to go to our friends in Oz rather than to corrupt countrys (Muslim or not !)

  • Comment number 31.

    The floods mainly affect areas of natural flooding.

    A main problem with a large part of human population is that it is in natural disastter zones.

    Some of these disasters/potential disasters might be very rare, but they are a FACT of course of time.

    I should think that with climate/weather systems due to wider variance as so often reported by scientists due to measured climate change, the rate of these natural disaster areas being damaged will greatly rise.

    This disaster has proven the reality.

    I do not think that the Australian government can itself afford to just put back what has been destroyed/damaged. It is a lesson in learning to improve and reduce any further future damage hence costs of re-building should ALSO endemically include further expense to improve and insure against any further future such disaster.

    It would be solely negligent if such improvements were not made, hence this cost needs to be shared by the nation as ultimately the costs of such a disaster is born by/paid for by the whole nation.

    Planning for the future is essential.

    Expenditure on military is an insurance against an attack, which may or may not happen.

    Disasters such as this is a reality which WILL HAPPEN again, its just that the "when" is unknown, maybe next year, maybe 50 years, maybe 200 years, ultimately its irrelevent as what is relevent is spending money which GUARANTEES that any future damage is more greatly limited, hence any losses to the country as a whole are further reduced/limited.

    Its about planning for the long term future & making life for future generations better and safer, which will NOT be done if what is lost is just re-placed with the same.

    Countrys like Pakistan & others are constantly undermined & damaged by natural disasters which continually drag them down ensuring continuity of poverty, the economic and social damage from constant re-building is one of the main factors which depress ability to improve life and conditions for all.

    Australia should take this fact to the heart of re-construction.

    Hence the further required expense will not be easy.

    Further, are the re-building figures stated just normal replacment & clearing up figures or do they include common sense & logical extra costs to provide insurance of and against the future by re-building in a way to minimise future potential damage, + also flood defences.

    It would be nice if a government actually uses a bit of common sense and comes up with such a radical plan to ensure and maximise the long term economic and social sustainability of the future.

    A disaster such as this, on such a scale actually provides a unique opportunity of modernisation and improvement for the long term.

    WILL IT BE TAKEN, WILL LOGIC BE AT THE HEART, OR WILL MINIMISING PRESENT COSTS BE USED TO DEFER TODAYS BAD PLANNING ONTO FUTURE GENERATIONS, as is so often an attrocious reality.

    USA had Katrina, USA government has let many people down, money wasted, money fraudulently syphoned off & still most homes are still destroyed and not re-built, nor will they be re-built.

    Can Australia show what CAN BE DONE & WHAT SHOULD BE DONE.

    The Australian people are waiting and watching, so are others around the world!!!

    What this does also mean is that Australia is going to have a HUGE infrastructure programme, hence requirement of many many jobs. It would be crazy to cut jobs in one area to pay for more jobs in another area. Australia has an opportunity to continue its outperforming of much of the world in these tough economic times and as Australia was little damaged by banking collapse it is in a much much better economic and financial situation to face and pay for this disaster and these jobs/employment can help maintain its performance.


    Good luck at building the future!!!

  • Comment number 32.

    9. At 12:00pm on 21 Jan 2011, scotty1694 wrote:
    why aren't we helping them? like we help pakistan etc?

    =========================================

    I don't think they have asked for aid, have they? I'm not sure that countries do just wade in (sorry) with help unless it has been requested. But I think we might get a warmer welcome in Oz.

  • Comment number 33.

    Of course how else can it be paid for

  • Comment number 34.

    13. At 12:11pm on 21 Jan 2011, Plane_Zach wrote:

    So the options are borrow money on the never never or claw it back from the country quickly as a short sharp tax shock.

    Neither works - long term borrowing will bog the country down, short sharp shock could kill the economy and who do they expect to pay to repair their infrastructure.

    In the UK we have a mentality that the State should fix everything, why ?

    If we accept that we pay the taxes to fund this State altruism - but we dont.

    So find a middle ground borrow short term to get the thing fixed and the economy back to operation but apply real measures to pay back the borrowed money as soon as possible.

    If Britian had understood that we might not be in the state we are in.


    ------------

    because i pay 20% income tax
    10% NI

    20% VAT
    petrol is 62% tax (and that's on everything that you will ever buy petrol is involved somewhere)


    give me some money back and ill fix things myself probably for cheaper

    dam right i expect the gov to pay for it

  • Comment number 35.

    What about they dont raise any more noney and just leave all the wrecked towns as they are?

    Does anyone actually believe that is a good idea?

  • Comment number 36.

    Insurance is paid for what? to keep yet another overbloated cash swallowing company in business.

    If these insurance companies don't have the resources to pay out when there is a crisis then don't take the money in the first place.

    When the banks went belly up, they got bailed out. Now people are desperate and find the insurance won't pay, the population has to fork out.

    And I don't care if it is A$100 billion or A$100 trillion - pay up.

  • Comment number 37.

    It is the duty of government to be economically responsible and not to spend more than it earns. If that means cutting back on government spending in order to finance an unexpected problem, then so be it. Taxation should only be used when every other method has been exhausted and it should be reduced immediately the problem has been resolved.

  • Comment number 38.

    Where was the contingency fun Julia?


    Did you use it to buy something else? All over the world countries need to establish disaster funds as this will happen again!!!

    So sales tax is one option until next year....

  • Comment number 39.

    "Is it right to tax residents to pay for a natural disaster?"

    No: they should just find the money out of thin air. Like bankers do. . .

  • Comment number 40.

    What an unusual question!

    How else are these repairs going to be funded?

    Taxpayers should of course cover some of the costs; but if governments do not have a substantial 'disaster pot' ringfenced from any petty party political interference from either side they should be held in contempt. Insurance companies should be forced to pay every single penny they owe to every single policy holder (I am sure they are currently thinking of ways to avoid paying out).

    There should be also foreign aid, though Australia is likely to be even more reluctant to share the responsibility of allocation than recent recipients. We should have audits to ensure every penny is going towards reconstruction, but otherwise leave the decisions of how to spend the money to the Australians. Anybody who believes otherwise: how would you feel if your house was destroyed then suddenly an American barges in waving cash and saying he will be deciding where your new home will be?

  • Comment number 41.

    2. At 11:40am on 21 Jan 2011, chiptheduck wrote:
    Should reconstruction be funded by taxes? How else are you going to fund government expenditure? If the BBC has got some brilliant alternative to tax then perhaps they should start being self sufficient.

    Why have a go at the Beeb? It's the Aussie opposition leader who says extra taxes shouldn't fund it and this HYS is simply asking people what they think of both sides of the argument.
    I think it's refreshing that, however it's paid for, Australia will fund the cost itself rather than stick the begging bowl out for the international community to fill.

  • Comment number 42.

    We should all help our great friends in Aussie, meet the cost of their awful flood damage and help rebuild they great towns and citys. We owe them a great deal, they help us in two world wars I will give my money to help them!!! they are our friends. The world bank can also help them out with an intress free loan.

  • Comment number 43.

    Have a telethon and put loads of comedians and newsreaders doing silly dances on the telly. Maybe Kylie can do a song and raise the money that way.

    A bit like we do with Children in Need.

    That way you don’t need to call it tax and everyone will feel good about helping.

  • Comment number 44.

    There is an alternative source of money is there?

  • Comment number 45.

    Australia's Prime Minister Julia Gillard has raised the prospect of a one-off tax to help pay for the devastation wrought by severe flooding. Is it right to tax residents to pay for a natural disaster?

    In the UK, the government ran up the biggest debt in history when spending got out of control. The interest on that debt is around £125 million a day. Not only will taxpayers be paying for it, but their children will be paying for it when we are pushing up daisies.

    Admittedly, the UK is a different kettle of fish to Australia because the powers that be in the UK wanted to encourage as many people as possible to be dependent on the state and raised taxes to finance their dream. This left a reduced taxpayer base to pay the bill. As a result, many taxpayers are voting with their feet to leave the UK for good for a fairer tax regime abroard.

    The moral of the story is, do not use any excuse to put up taxes because the same thing might happen to you.

  • Comment number 46.

    Silly question, how else do you pay for it?

  • Comment number 47.

    26. At 12:50pm on 21 Jan 2011, Paul wrote:
    In the UK that would only raise £1.4 billion (assuming everyone, from newborns to centenarians pays). So you'd have to tax people £2000 each to just about make up the annual budget overspend.
    ________________________________________________
    Great maths...only I wasn't implying that the whole budget would be covered by people in this country being taxed £20. Ever heard the expression 'every little helps'?

  • Comment number 48.

    The Government is responsible for recovery after a flood. An increase in graduated tax could provide relief in grants and loans to the affected areas. Australia should consider critical zones to fund and eliminate the threat of over-spending.

  • Comment number 49.

    I dont think the Australians have a choice such was the damage.The same would apply to this country if we had anything on such a scale as befell the Aussies.Spread across the whole nation it wouldnt be a great deal and it can always be reduced at a later date.Im sure the people in Australia will rise to the challenge.

  • Comment number 50.

    It would be unfair if taxes were to be used to rebuild uninsured privately owned property. As all public owned property is already paid for by the taxpayer any uninsured public property will anyway be funded by the taxpayer as it has always been.

  • Comment number 51.

    What I find astonishing is that this time last year every other ad on tv or radio was an appeal for money for either Haiti or Pakistan and both the government in Westminster and Holyrood simply couldnt give away our money quickly enough.

    Today we have a country in need of help that I have a much closer attachment to, like most British people, than either Haiti or Pakistan but our Governments remain silent and with their hands firmly in their pockets.

    Is this some sort of reverse racism over foreign aid?

  • Comment number 52.

    23. At 12:48pm on 21 Jan 2011, Paul wrote:
    It has to be paid for one way or another. (Something Labourites will have difficulty understanding).
    *****************************************
    Actually socialist are more likely to understand the need to help those regardless of wealth and personal circumstances.
    Your problem would lie with the "I don't need help so I shouldn't pay towards it" Brigade that infest the Tory ranks.

    T'other Paul :-)

  • Comment number 53.

    What a silly question. How do you expect natural disasters to be funded?

  • Comment number 54.

    27. At 12:51pm on 21 Jan 2011, Graphis wrote:
    Yet another reason for the decision on what to spend the tax we pay to be handed over to the voter. If we all voted on where our taxes were spent, we'd have fantastic health services, brilliant infrastructures, and we'd not be fighting wars anymore. And there'd be a big pot in reserve for eventualities like this.
    ........................................................................

    SPOT ON !

  • Comment number 55.

    9. At 12:00pm on 21 Jan 2011, scotty1694 wrote:

    why aren't we helping them? like we help pakistan etc? or do we just not care about Australia because there not Muslim!


    Please donate generously. Thank you.

    http://www.australiantimes.co.uk/community/Donate-to-the-appeal-for-flood-relief

  • Comment number 56.

    Ms Gillard told Australian television that there would be
    - spending cutbacks,
    - a possible levy,
    - reconstruction shattered communities as well as
    - a balanced budgett.
    Tony Abbott said "there's a right way and a wrong way to find that money," and suggested that the government should cut back its own spending before taxing Australians (and scrap the controversial A$36bn broadband network plan).
    In my opinion, the very first thing that needs be done is to assess where it is safe and practical to reconstrict. There is no sense reconstructing where future flooding and devastation will wash away the work. We have seen this happening in far too many countries. Island countries especially must be careful about where they rebuild.
    After assessing where, the cost of reconstruction itself should be assessed - either on new ground or in flood-stricken areas.
    As far as a one-off flood tax, no, I do not think this is the right approach.
    1. Julian Gillard’s pledge to reach a budgetary surplus by 2012 should be scraped as utterly unrealistic under these extraordinary expenses.
    2. AUD 43B earmarked for the country’s broadband should be rolled into reconstruction.
    Premier Anna Bligh said there was a small possibility of a cyclone developing in the north before Australia Day and a moderate risk after then. "Whether or not that develops, we know that we are by no means out of our wet season...If we need to reactivate that state disaster management group, that's what we'll do."
    As I said above: There is no sense reconstructing where future flooding and devastation will wash away all the work and all the money.
    Ms Bligh said thousands of people now found themselves temporarily homeless as the state struggls to count the financial costs of the disaster. "As we go into the recovery phase we really need to count the damage and to count the cost of this incident and we're not there yet."
    Statewide,
    - 5,400 homes had been flooded over their floorboards,
    - 21,000 had been flooded under that level,
    - 15,000 had water in their yards and
    - 3,600 homes were evacuated of 5,900 people.
    - 97 towns were impacted.
    Flood victims will receive an initial payment of up to $2,000 that won't be means tested from the Premier's Disaster Relief Appeal.
    I disagree.
    The appeal's distribution committee chair Dr David Hamill announced adults would receive $2,000 and children $1,000 from the $127 million already in the premier's fund. But even Dr. Hamill foresees potential fraud: He warned fraudsters not to try ripping off kind-hearted donors by posing as hard-hit homeowners.
    The state opposition wants the Bligh government to put a reconstruction budget before parliament as soon as possible, but how can she do that when the assessment of costs is not ready?
    The LNP's treasury spokesman Tim Nicholls told reporters the budget should outline how the government intends to use
    - the $7.5 billion in federal funding and
    - the state's $2.5 billion contribution.
    This seems a lot of money for the damage that occurred. I would want to see that money being properly and trightly spent in the reconstruction effort, not rolled over into other parts of the budget.
    Meanwhile, St George, which was saved by its levee in a flood earlier this month, is preparing for the Balonne River to peak again at the weekend at a predicted 12.5m and stay at that level for three or four days. The previous flood peaked at 13.2m.reconstruction shattered communities. Elsewhere, authorities were looking into whether a flood peak of more than four metres would affect the 90 residents at Tallwood, west of Goondiwindi.
    As I said above, there is no sense reconstructing where future flooding and devastation will wash away the work. Island countries must face the new reality of global warming, flooding, and build in relatively safe areas.

  • Comment number 57.

    The only problem with 'one-off taxes' is they end up becoming permanent.

  • Comment number 58.

    Knowing many of our large insurance companies have global buisness, some operating a telephone call centre in either country, and living in UK, I would say no. We in UK have many of our own problems that the insurance buisness is already expected to fund. This method just increases the premiums to pay for it a political system not wishing to accept responsibilities for there own problems even if not all together man made, it will just add extra problems to our own financial insecurity.

  • Comment number 59.

    IDEA IDEA!!

    We send unused monies from the Olympics over there and stop playing silly games.

    What - they've already wasted money in the past on Olympic Games that could have gone into an emergency fund? Oh well.

  • Comment number 60.

    42. At 1:35pm on 21 Jan 2011, Lewis Fitzroy wrote:

    We should all help our great friends in Aussie, meet the cost of their awful flood damage and help rebuild they great towns and citys. We owe them a great deal, they help us in two world wars I will give my money to help them!!! they are our friends. The world bank can also help them out with an intress free loan.

    -------------------------
    Interest free loans? I think not, Australia is an extremely wealthy country.

    If anyone should be given a penny by us, it's the indigenous population who WE almost wiped out!

    I worked in Chinchilla and Dalby where the floods hit hard, and there are no warning systems, no defenses, nothing! This is what the Australians think of those living in these areas that were hit hard, yet these are the areas where most of their money comes from i.e. farming, mining etc...Never mind the fact that these areas have always had floods (be them not to this level)

    The comments about the insurance companies is a very good one. If they couldn't afford to pay out on claims for disasters, why did they sell the policies in the first place. They should be forced to pay out every last cent, whether it bankrupts them or not.

    I was mortified when I saw Chinchilla and Dalby under water, I worked with and met some of the nicest Australians there. They have been ignored and looked down upon for too long. If their is a tax levy to pay for this damage, those in these rural towns should be given a rebate instead, it's not their fault that no one cares about them!

  • Comment number 61.

    51. At 2:18pm on 21 Jan 2011, pzero wrote:
    What I find astonishing is that this time last year every other ad on tv or radio was an appeal for money for either Haiti or Pakistan and both the government in Westminster and Holyrood simply couldnt give away our money quickly enough.

    Today we have a country in need of help that I have a much closer attachment to, like most British people, than either Haiti or Pakistan but our Governments remain silent and with their hands firmly in their pockets.

    Is this some sort of reverse racism over foreign aid?
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    Australia is one of the world's richer countries. Haiti and Pakistan are by any measure poor countries. Nothing racist about it, despite your best efforts.

  • Comment number 62.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 63.

    24. At 12:48pm on 21 Jan 2011, Ron wrote:

    Another top drawer question from the BBC

    As most governments act as self Insurers there is no other way to raise the cash for the infrastructure of the country

    I wonder what qualifications you need to work on the BBC HYS team, My Monkey needs a Job?
    ++++++

    Just think, someone gets paid to do this work and create the topics etc... comes from the license fee, over which we have no control - similar to HYS itself really -

    It's my/our license fee that funds your sorry excuse for an anti-competitive corporation, make changes that many people have vocalised about......

    I wan't the recommend function back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 64.

    Given the sheer size of the disaster, the Australian government should look to inceased taxation only after having exhausted every other avenue open to it, ie reviewing the current spending programme and shelving anything that can wait another day. It would be quite inequitable if some Australians found they were benefitting at the expense of others. It's a case of "we're all in it together", and I'm sure the Aussies have the right mental approach. They're a tough lot.

  • Comment number 65.

    Can’t really comment on Australian politics but the UK government certainly funds everyone else’s reconstruction anywhere in the world (except England) out of UK taxpayers money but hey that’s OK we have buckets and buckets of spare UK taxpayers cash to throw about don’t you know.

    Also did anyone else notice how quite the major charities were over the floods down under, if this had been anywhere in say Africa for example the DEC would have been screaming and begging, TV adverts, radio the lot but I suppose the Aussies may be the wrong creed or colour or maybe they just refuse to sing happy clappy Christian songs before being fed so I guess they do not qualify.

  • Comment number 66.

    Nobody likes having to pay more taxes but in this case it's a necessary one-off evil that will hopefully help things get back to normal both financially and infrastructure-wise. The UK should also give Australia aid. They're not a third world country but they are a friend and I would imagine that Australia would not hesitate to send aid and help if we suffered a natural disaster of the same scale.

  • Comment number 67.

    If government needs to spend, then the coffers need to be refilled. But I don't see a separate tax as being that popular. Why not just raise existing ones slightly until one can afford to bring them down again ?

  • Comment number 68.

    We are facing an unprecedented time in history of Natural disasters and no doubt many more to come that will not only effect the lives of people on the recieving end of it but the whole worlds food and resources supply.We all know insurance companies will do anything to get out of paying as they are as corrupt as the Banks but in reality they will not be able to afford it.The public can only have so much money taken from them and most would agree that already we are stretched to the limit.I can see in the future huge swathes of land being laid to waste with no way of putting it right.We cannot control mother natures fury by spending cash but we can lesson the blow by going back to the land and start feeding ourselves.

  • Comment number 69.

    Is it right to tax residents to pay for a natural disaster?

    Its certainly right to tax all citizens of a country to pay for the reconstruction of an area devastated by natural disaster.

    And I can't really see any legitimate objections to this.

    Otherwise its not really a country, its a collection of selfish, self interested individuals.

  • Comment number 70.

    You can be sure that if a similar disaster happened in the UK the Governement could not deal with it , nor pay for it. AS has become apparent from the enquiry into the 7/7 events London could hardly manage to deal with a small scale disaster, (I am commenting on the scale not the seriousness), does anyone seriously think that with a large scale of damage the UK could manage.
    Australia is like any other nation, it does not have reserves to deal with wide scale disasters, a Tax is the only logical path.

  • Comment number 71.

    Just a point. If the area was badly flooded 30 odd years ago - some news reports said that in places the flood height was greater then - why do they rebuild in low lying areas? And what will happen at the next flood?

  • Comment number 72.

    65. At 3:19pm on 21 Jan 2011, Alan Baker wrote:
    Can’t really comment on Australian politics but the UK government certainly funds everyone else’s reconstruction anywhere in the world (except England) out of UK taxpayers money but hey that’s OK we have buckets and buckets of spare UK taxpayers cash to throw about don’t you know.

    Also did anyone else notice how quite the major charities were over the floods down under, if this had been anywhere in say Africa for example the DEC would have been screaming and begging, TV adverts, radio the lot but I suppose the Aussies may be the wrong creed or colour or maybe they just refuse to sing happy clappy Christian songs before being fed so I guess they do not qualify.

    -----

    Or it could just be that as a first world country they do not accept foereign aid.

    Just as the US refused foreign aid after Katrina and China always refuses foreign aid after its earthquakes (though in their case you could argue its more aspirational).

    So to summarise, those countries which consider themselves to be top flight in the league of nations never accept foreign aid.

    So its not a conspiracy, or even a double standard.

  • Comment number 73.

    put the idle to work with a decent wage, is that simple enough?

  • Comment number 74.

    Probably a combination of things to address this:

    1/ A one off tax (proportional to earings/assets).
    2/ Cutbacks in non-essential spending.
    3/ Volunteers, to help clean up and rebuild (and get the Armed Forces to chip in too).

    I think if the above suggestions were implemented through a sound and efficient management program then it would probably be the best approach. I guess Australia hasn't asked for any help, and I'm sure they won't either, but I'd like to think our government has offered anyway, even a modest amount. They are our friends and family.

  • Comment number 75.

    it's not the governments job to rebuild anything privately owned. THATS THE JOB OF THE OWNER OR INSURANCE COMPANY. government needs to stay out of it.

  • Comment number 76.

    54. At 2:24pm on 21 Jan 2011, pzero wrote:

    27. At 12:51pm on 21 Jan 2011, Graphis wrote:
    Yet another reason for the decision on what to spend the tax we pay to be handed over to the voter. If we all voted on where our taxes were spent, we'd have fantastic health services, brilliant infrastructures, and we'd not be fighting wars anymore. And there'd be a big pot in reserve for eventualities like this.
    ........................................................................

    SPOT ON !
    +++++++
    Hear Hear from me too

    (Wish we still had the recommend system - take note BBC)

  • Comment number 77.

    "20. At 12:40pm on 21 Jan 2011, hardatwork wrote:

    12. At 12:08pm on 21 Jan 2011, chrislabiff wrote:
    Tax those who can most afford it.
    ________________________________________
    Could people get any more jealous or resentful of rich or successful people? They should never be punished or singled out because of this. I guess some people are just not team players...shame"

    ---------------------------

    You sir (hardatwork) are an idiot. If you take £100 from a man who only has £100 what is that man left with? If you take £100 from a man who has only £1000 what is that man left with?

    If you are not an idiot you can obviously see that taxing those that can most afford to pay is the right thing to do. Not taking from the poor who are unlikely to be able to pay, and in this case are suffering the loss of their homes and have to rebuild their lives.

    The comment by chrislabiff has nothing to do with jealously. It's basic mathematics.

  • Comment number 78.

    52. At 2:19pm on 21 Jan 2011, paul wrote:
    23. At 12:48pm on 21 Jan 2011, Paul wrote:
    It has to be paid for one way or another. (Something Labourites will have difficulty understanding).
    *****************************************
    Actually socialist are more likely to understand the need to help those regardless of wealth and personal circumstances.
    Your problem would lie with the "I don't need help so I shouldn't pay towards it" Brigade that infest the Tory ranks.

    -------------------

    Given the number of posts on HYS with a "tax the rich more to pay for it" attitude, I don't think there's any difference in understanding the need for help - be they socialist or Tory.

  • Comment number 79.

    71. At 4:08pm on 21 Jan 2011, Sue Doughcoup wrote:
    Just a point. If the area was badly flooded 30 odd years ago - some news reports said that in places the flood height was greater then - why do they rebuild in low lying areas? And what will happen at the next flood

    ----

    After the last big flood the Australians built a huge dam to stop flash floods surging through Queensland.

    And it worked for 30 odd years.

    I suspect that they will now be looking at building a second dam to catch the excess when the old one can't cope (as was the case this time).

  • Comment number 80.



    I suggest a one off tax on the mega rich to pay for reconstruction.

  • Comment number 81.

    1/ A one off tax (proportional to earings/assets).

    ---------------------------------------------------------

    Err, I meant earning of course... I don't have anything against those who favour wearing lots of earings. Mind you, if George Osbourne is reading this who knows what plans he's cooking up......

  • Comment number 82.

    • 72. At 4:09pm on 21 Jan 2011, Jack Napier wrote:
    65. At 3:19pm on 21 Jan 2011, Alan Baker wrote:
    Can’t really comment on Australian politics but the UK government certainly funds everyone else’s reconstruction anywhere in the world (except England) out of UK taxpayers money but hey that’s OK we have buckets and buckets of spare UK taxpayers cash to throw about don’t you know.

    Also did anyone else notice how quite the major charities were over the floods down under, if this had been anywhere in say Africa for example the DEC would have been screaming and begging, TV adverts, radio the lot but I suppose the Aussies may be the wrong creed or colour or maybe they just refuse to sing happy clappy Christian songs before being fed so I guess they do not qualify.

    -----

    Or it could just be that as a first world country they do not accept foreign aid.

    Just as the US refused foreign aid after Katrina and China always refuses foreign aid after its earthquakes (though in their case you could argue its more aspirational).

    So to summarise, those countries which consider themselves to be top flight in the league of nations never accept foreign aid.

    So its not a conspiracy, or even a double standard.

    My point was does ANYONE (anyone at all) know if any sort of help or aid was even offered by any of these charities (whether it was accepted or declined is not the issue, the fact that they are “a first world country” is not the issue). Charity is supposed to be there for those who need it in times of disasters or crises but these charities seem very selective in who they offer help and aid to and those who they just choose to ignore.

  • Comment number 83.

    They could introduce a new PAYE tax worked out on a slinding scale

    1% for low earners
    5 middle income
    10% wealthy
    50% millionaires

  • Comment number 84.

    Ms Gillard is wrong to impose a reconstruction tax. People who are trying to rebuild their lives do not want the additional burden. However, money earmarked for non-essential projects, such as broadband should be routed to assist.

    But has she thought of seeking aid? I am sure that Austalia must have helped other countries that have suffered devastating floods; other countries would be happy to assist Australia as needed.

  • Comment number 85.

    I hope they don't start doing that here.

    But no doubt they will, now some bright spark has thought of yet another way of fleecing us.

  • Comment number 86.

    In the end the money is going to have to come out of the pockets of Australians no matter who frontsthe payments. This is no third world country where they can sit back and wait for someone else to clear up the mess.

  • Comment number 87.

    Well Mates if ya wanna live in a natural flood plain so be it; But ya have to pay the consequences! TAXES! No probs mate!
    ps You should have learnt from the OWNERS of that land before you turned them in to alcoholics!
    pps Pretty much like the good ol' USofA should have done!

  • Comment number 88.

    there should be a halt to building in any area plauged by destruction or not allow any insurance coverage. let people build and live there at their own risk. why should taxpayers have to pay for someones irresponsibility? and why should my homeowners insurance be artificially high so that someone can live on the beach only to have their home destroyed when a hurricane comes thru? you build or move to a high risk area, THATS YOUR PROBLEM. and the rich are the biggest offenders. build huge mansions on a cliff overlooking the ocean. very beautiful vacation homes. but when they fall into the sea because of a landslide or blown apart from a hurricane, NO PROBLEM! the insurance co spends 20+ million to build a new house with new furnishings. WHAT A BARGAIN, THE RICH GOT TO LOVE IT!

  • Comment number 89.


    Just to put this into perspective for UK readers:

    * The Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, was against the broadband network rollout long before the floods. It would seem that he is using the floods as leverage to call once again for its scrapping.

    * The QLD Premier's Flood Appeal currently stands at $130,422,206 in donations.

    * Volunteers have been doing cleanups (in fact there has been so many people putting their hand up to help that I think the Qld govt has suspended the call the volunteers at this point in the Brisbane recovery operations). Many people simply took the streets in their suburb and helped out complete strangers with cleaning up their homes etc. During the flooding army helicopters have undertaken rescue and recovery work and RAAF planes have also been flying in much needed supplies. I would also like to mention the wonderful work that the volunteer SES undertakes when disaster strikes.

    * If the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, was to implement this one off flood levy I would expect that the money raised should be divided between all the states that need rebuilding assistance. For example, Victoria is now being devastated by flooding similar to what has occurred in Queensland. There has been also been much smaller scale flooding in parts of northern NSW.

    * I haven't heard if the Premier of VIC intends to launch a similar flood appeal for that state.

    On a final note I'd like to say Thanks to the HYS contributors here who've generously stated that you would be happy to donate or have your govt help us out. Your gesture is very kind, especially given the austerity measures you are facing in your own country. Cheers!

  • Comment number 90.

    It is not a natural disaster,it was a disater waiting to happen when you build towns citys on flood plains sooner or later it will flood as for who pays I thought is was obvious the people.

  • Comment number 91.

    What a damn fool question, how else can the money be raised to cover the cost of repairs?. Is the BBC suggesting that the tax on petrol in Tristan de Cuna be raised to pay for the damage?

  • Comment number 92.

    No the government they have money to waste of war at the request of the UK or get Blair to pay for it or the rich Zionists that now people Australia they people look like they have lost everything how about the bankers no bonus for a couple of years? but no the people should not pay for this but the Govenment and please get ride of the new leader she is like a female Blair.

  • Comment number 93.

    54

    If the voter controlled the way our taxes were spent, the majority would vote for an increase in their welfare benefits.

  • Comment number 94.


    79. At 4:36pm on 21 Jan 2011, Jack Napier wrote:

    Ater the last big flood the Australians built a huge dam to stop flash floods surging through Queensland.


    Actually Jack, the current dam, designed originally as a flood buffer for this very eventuality, could have coped had it not been maintained at a very high water level in order to protect against the droughts that climate "scientists" had been predicting would occur in Australia as a natural consequence of global warming.

    At the peak of the flood event, the dam was storing practically none of the inflow which it was designed to do in order to regulate outflow to the downstream river systems, but was having to spill off all of the inflow for the purpose of protection of the earth barrier, the failure of which does not bear contemplation.

    Maybe the idiots who keep pushing the same AGW nonsense despite evidence to the contrary, and the fools who believe them, should pick up the tab on this one.

    PS: I find supreme irony in the fact that some of the AGW lobby, after years of predicting unprecedented droughts in Australia, are now crawling out from under the skirting board to proclaim the recent floods are also a consequence of AGW.

    You have to admire their nerve.

  • Comment number 95.

    1. At 11:37am on 21 Jan 2011, Stokkevn wrote:
    When I worked in Australia I paid 51.5% tax, I don't think you can screw any more out of the tax payers. Let the resoure minners pay for it.
    ...

    You should come to the UK - THEN you'd see the definition of screwing the tax-payer!!!

  • Comment number 96.

    The government has responsibility for publicising the risks of living in flood plains or fire-prone areas, but it is for the individual to insure against the hazard.
    I cannot understand why an event that affects a few people does not warrant government assistance while an event that affects many does.
    I do not agree with the government acting as insurer when no premium has been paid by those affected.

  • Comment number 97.

    they took the risk of buying a home in that area; so now they can pay the piper. useing taxpayer money is THEFT!

  • Comment number 98.

    Who else is going to pay for it? Insurance, make me laugh, they had the same, or worse in terms of depth, floods in 1974, as many in the UK will know, insurance companies shy away, except at a price, from second time around flood victims! I think the Australians will accept a one off tax as the lady said "well we'll just have to clean up and start living again" they dont rush to blame it on the government or local authority yet! In time they well might!

  • Comment number 99.

    Don't they have insurance in Australia? The insurance companies should pay after all they are happy to take your money when everything is fine. Of course when it comes to paying out, that's a different story!

  • Comment number 100.

    jackinusa must be British!

 

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