Australia's Flood Reconstruction Plan Advances

The $5.6 billion package passed by the parliament includes a flood tax that will be paid by most Australians.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard hailed the March 22 passage by the country's parliament of her $5.6 billion flood reconstruction package, which includes a flood tax that will be paid by most Australians. She proposed it following devastating floods in the populous eastern portion of the country early this year.

Gillard said passage of her legislation is good news for affected communities that must rebuild local roads, rail lines, bridges and schools, and she said it showed her government's ability to get a difficult measure enacted into law.

The Queensland Reconstruction Authority will coordinate the total statewide rebuilding program, according to Gillard's office. Payments to other Australian states will be made through the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements; the country's attorney-general issued new guidelines this week to help ensure state and territory governments have adequate capital or insurance to fund the rebuilding of essential public infrastructure.

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