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Swan extends flood assistance for Queensland

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CANBERRA, Jan 28 AAP

January 28 2013, 09:45AM

Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan says it's too early to put a dollar figure on the cost of the floods sweeping Queensland but warns it will be substantial.

The federal government on Monday announced a further five communities left reeling in the aftermath of ex-tropical cyclone Oswald would be eligible for Commonwealth assistance.

The local government areas of Fraser Coast, Gympie, Moreton Bay, North Burnett, and Sunshine Coast will be offered assistance under the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA).

There are now 34 councils eligible for assistance across Queensland, with NDRRA funding to be extended as the crisis unfolds, Mr Swan said.

But it was too early to tell whether the damage bill would top the $6 billion mark from the devastating floods of 2011.

"The most important thing now is to be out there assisting people who are currently in crisis," Mr Swan told ABC TV on Monday.

"As the storm passes, we then move into recovery mode ... and we start making all those assessments.

"It's not a time to be talking about the dollar cost, although it will be substantial."

He praised the resilience of Queenslanders, particularly those who are dealing with their second or third flood crisis in as many years.

Two years ago, the Queensland spirit shone through as the "mud army" rebuilt the state piece by piece.

"Times are tough, people pull together. That's what Queenslanders do, that's what Australians do," he said.

He said Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who on Monday was visiting bushfire-affected communities in Victoria, would most likely visit Queensland soon.