Warren Entsch MP, Federal Member for Leichhardt, is visiting Preston Fresh Seafood, a longstanding local business that reflects both the resilience and challenges faced by our local industries in the wake of Ex-Tropical Cyclone Jasper’s devastating impact.
Preston Fresh Seafood has been grappling with power outages, relying on costly generators to keep their doors open during what should be their busiest season. Operating for 37 years, they’ve never faced such dire conditions. With 25 employees depending on them, the urgency for more tailored government support to assist such businesses through this crisis is evident.
“While we welcome the supports that have been offered to date, it is clear to me that much more is required and will be required as we begin the recovery phase,” Mr Entsch said.
“There will be many businesses like Preston Fresh Seafood, who are doing it extraordinarily tough, many without power and who are now facing significant costs, the government needs to recognise this and enact tailored supports accordingly.”
More broadly impacts on the tourism sector are becoming apparent, the industry is already facing estimated losses of over $125 million in bookings alone. In just the last three days, a 10% drop in January occupancy rates has been observed. The risk of losing the industry’s workforce looms large as recovery timelines extend, underscoring the necessity for industry-specific support.
Mr Entsch said that critical infrastructure had been significantly damaged following this event with our region now facing an enormous task in repairing key infrastructure damaged by the floods. While the extent of this task is yet to be fully realised, it is clear that significant funding and resources will be required to restore vital infrastructure.
“I’d like to particularly make reference to the Daintree, much of this area is entirely reliant upon generators, fuel stocks will no doubt start to wain in coming days and we must ensure that we can get fuel into this community to ensure the safety and wellbeing of residents in these areas,” Mr Entsch said.
Reliable, local weather advice is crucial for disaster preparedness. Recent trends towards centralising Bureau of Meteorology services away from FNQ have raised concerns. Local expertise and insights are essential for accurate forecasting and effective community response planning.
“Everyone is entirely reliant upon BOM’s advice, it’s clear there was a far greater focus on Cyclone Jasper, and not nearly enough clear advice and timely warnings about the one in a hundred year rainfall event that followed,” Mr Entsch said.
“From businesses fighting to stay afloat, to the impending infrastructure overhaul and the unique challenges faced by isolated communities like the Daintree, it’s clear that a one-size-fits-all approach to disaster recovery won’t suffice. We need targeted, flexible support tailored to the diverse needs of our region.”
“In coming days and weeks I expect the focus will be on major infrastructure and major roads, but we can’t overlook the smaller regional roads. For instance, the coastal road between the Daintree and Wujal Wujal, they’ve seen significant challenges and ensuring they can get access is just as critical.”