How will Queensland’s natural disasters and COVID-19 pandemic shape the federal election?

Alli Lark is “stressed, tired and really, really upset”.

As she opens the door to her flooded Deagon home in Brisbane’s north, the walls are torn apart, the floors are stripped back and there is a lingering smell of mold and sewage.

Ms Lark lives and works in the electorate of Lilley – the most marginal seat in Queensland.

Both her home and her business were flooded in early March.

“You can’t escape it,” Ms Lark said.

“Some people get to go to work and don’t have to think about it for a bit.

“I leave the home, go to the business, and it’s there in my face, just the reminder.”

Muddy stairs and flooring after a flood in a home at Deagon on Brisbane northside.
Mud still coats the inside of Alli Lark’s home as the flood clean-up continues.(Supplied)

Ms Lark’s business is a dress-rental store that was running at 50 per cent capacity in January due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Now it has stopped earning altogether after being swamped by floods.

She is one of thousands in Lilley caught between the ongoing collateral damage of the pandemic and the fallout from the floods.

Lilley encompasses Moreton Bay and Brisbane’s northern suburbs and is held by Labor on a 0.6 per cent margin.

Alli Lark's flood-ravaged possessions piled up outside her home at Deagon on Brisbane's northside after they were destroyed.
Alli Lark’s flood-ravaged possessions were piled up outside her home at Deagon.(Supplied)

Ms Lark exemplifies the concerns of voters across Lilley, who will head to the polls on May 21.

“It’s going to be [about] who is still there and doing work and supporting us and reaching out, not just whoever it is that’s been there in the initial stages, and then just moved on to the next thing, “Ms Lark said.

“I want to see somebody who understands that these sorts of things take a lot of time – that’s where my vote will go.”

Battleground Queensland

The Coalition government won the 2019 election in Queensland, securing 23 of the state’s 30 seats, illustrating the state’s importance in federal politics.

Government preparedness, flood resilience, rebuilding and economic recovery would be the “fundamental features” of the federal election, Griffith University political analyst Anne Tiernan said.

An aerial view of houses under the water.
The scale of flooding in Fairfield and Yeronga in Brisbane in early March.(Supplied: Luciano Nunes)

“Seats here will be very important… this is a very consequential election and Australia’s at a critical juncture,” Dr Tiernan said.

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