Joyce, Trad brawl over Debbie money

Alexandra Patrikios
'Get competent' over disaster money: Joyce

Political mud-slinging is continuing to plague the delivery of much-needed disaster relief money for Queensland farmers and small businesses ravaged by Cyclone Debbie.

Tensions have escalated between the state and federal governments after the latter rejected a request for category C funding - which gives affected farmers access to payments of up to $25,000 - saying the application form did not include the correct information.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has insisted the information was being gathered by officials, and Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce had previously assured her the funding would be given the green light.

But Mr Joyce on Thursday accused the premier and her deputy of acting like "smart alecs", and said the state government needed to "get competent" over the application process.

He suggested they spent too much time giving "a thousand and one" press conferences instead of properly completing the critical paperwork.

"They're just trying to be smart alecs by sending across this ridiculous little letter saying, 'Please give us a lot of money, love the Queensland premier'," he told ABC Radio.

"We'll keep staff here over Easter so these people can actually get competent and get their work done, and get it down to us so we can get this money back to the people who need it."

He also denied ever speaking to the Queensland premier last week - a claim that rejected by Deputy Premier Jackie Trad's statement earlier in the day.

"The premier had a conversation with Barnaby Joyce last weekend and Barnaby Joyce said to the premier, 'Send me a letter'," Ms Trad told ABC Radio.

She also urged the New England MP to "stop acting like a child" and accused him of trying to score political points over disaster relief.

Mr Joyce said Queensland was seeking a total package of slightly more than $20 million, and had sent through further information for the Whitsundays, Mackay and the Scenic Rim on Wednesday night.

"(But) I can't just write a blank cheque," the acting prime minister said.

Meanwhile, the state opposition questioned why the application process had posed such a challenge to the Palaszczuk government.

"I think the deputy prime minister has made it very clear he expected at least the basic paperwork to be done. NSW has done that, why can't Queensland?" Shadow Treasurer Scott Emerson said.

Treasurer Curtis Pitt said he found Mr Joyce's reaction "disturbing", and described the public spat over the funding as a "terrible scenario".

In 2013 the Newman state government applied for category C funding following severe flooding in parts of the state, notably around the Bundaberg region.

The Gillard government noted there was insufficient information to support the application, but granted category C funds on the basis of helping affected communities.