Destructive flooding in Queensland and Victoria may prove to be the costliest and largest natural disaster ever hit Australia, said Deputy Australian Prime Minister Wayne Swan.
Raging floodwaters have swamped thousands of homes and businesses in Queensland, leaving at least 25 people dead and over 100 missing since late November.
AdvertisementA total of 46 towns have already been hit in Victoria, affecting over 3,000 people and 1,600 properties.
The floods have been blamed on the La Nina weather pattern in the Pacific.
"It looks like this is possibly going to be, in economic terms, the largest natural disaster in our history," the Courier Mail quoted Swan, as saying.
"It will involve billions of dollars of commonwealth money, and also state government money, and there's going to be impacts on local government as well."
"This is very big ... It's not just something which is going to occupy our time for the next few months. It will be a question of years as we go through the rebuilding process," he added.
Swan further said that the disaster would affect living costs across Australia.
"There's no doubt there will be some impact, yes, in the cost of living. The Lockyer Valley is a food bowl which not just supplies Queensland, but the rest of the country," the Deputy Prime Minister said.
"There will be all sorts of impacts, but it's far too early to be putting figures on those," he added.