Prime Minister Julia Gillard has urged far north Queenslanders to not let their guard down in the wake of Cyclone Yasi, saying the storm is still dangerous.
3 Feb 2011 - 11:59 AM  UPDATED 3 Sep 2013 - 6:20 PM

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has urged far north Queenslanders to not let their guard down in the wake of Cyclone Yasi, saying the storm is still dangerous.

While the worst of Yasi appears to be over, some areas are expected to be hit by a second, dangerous storm surge on Thursday.

Ms Gillard said people needed to stay alert and listen to the advice of emergency services workers.

"Surging tides, powerlines that are down, flooding danger and there are some parts of Queensland that are bracing for the cyclone to come across land and to still hit," she told reporters in Canberra.

"People cannot let their guard down yet. The danger is not over."

Emergency payments of $1000 per adult and $400 per child would be available to people directly affected by the cyclone, Ms Gillard said.

"That can help circuit people in circumstances where they've been evacuated, where their homes have been damaged."

Ms Gillard insisted the nation would recover.

"Right throughout these affected areas, there is going to be a lot of damage and rebuilding to do.

"I want to say to the people of Queensland and the people of the nation generally, we will rebuild.

"We will rebuild from the floods, we will rebuild from the cyclone, we will rebuild from anything that nature throws at us."

The prime minister said it was too early to estimate the cost of the cyclone or say when she would visit north Queensland. "It's too soon to give you clear advice on either," Ms Gillard said.

"But as soon as it is possible for me to travel and to be on the ground talking to Queenslanders who have been hit by this cyclone I will go and meet with them.

"I'm really very, very keen to do that."

Ms Gillard said search-and-rescue operations were still under way "so the focus continues to be on people's safety".

Ms Gillard said the government would make available the disaster relief payment available to those in affected areas following Cyclone Yasi.

"This is the emergency money of $1000 per adults and $400 per child that can help people in circumstances where they have been evacuated, and where their homes have been damaged," she said.

The government would have Centrelink personnel on the ground "as soon as possible".

"We will then add to that Centrelink capacity as soon as we can add people into these areas with safety, but that cannot occur for a period of time."

Additional support would be made to those whose work had been affected by the cyclone.

"We will also make available the income support payment that assists people that are unable to work for a period of time or unable to operate their businesses for a period of time because of the natural disaster," Ms Gillard said.

Ms Gillard delivered a warning to people claiming emergency relief payments but are not entitled to it.

"If there is any fraud involved then we will crack down.

"They (claimants) should expect to feel the full force of the law and there won't be any mercy shown," she said, noting that a team at Centrelink had been set up to monitor false applications.

Ms Gillard said she and Attorney-General Robert McClelland had participated earlier in a telephone hook-up with Queensland Premier Anna Bligh and the commander of Operation Yasi Assistant Brigadier Stuart Smith to discuss relief operations.

Defence stood ready to provide whatever help was needed.

"Those tasks are likely to include assistance with search and rescue, assistance with clean-up, provision potentially of bottled water and maybe foodstuffs," Ms Gillard said.

Generator capacity would be provided to overcome power outages.

Ms Gillard said the commonwealth's share of the damage bill would be met from the federal budget.

"It will require cutbacks in other areas, there is no point sugar coating that," she said.

"We will rebuild from this cyclone and we will arrange the federal budget in order to do that."

The victim exemptions from a planned flood levy the government wants to use to help fund rebuilding efforts will apply to those hit by the cyclone.