Flood levee looks more likely
GYMPIE'S CBD will be the site of a major State Government flood funding announcement tomorrow.
Community Recovery and Resilience Minister David Crisafulli is expected to visit the city tomorrow morning after revealing at the weekend a $50 million plan to construct flood-proofing projects in communities across Queensland.
The announcement could be a huge step forward in Gympie Regional Council's quest for State and Federal money to fund the bulk of the $23.5 million levee to protect the inner city from floods up to 22m high.
An excited Gympie Deputy Mayor Tony Perrett said yesterday "the financial commitment by the Newman Government to assist local authorities ease flood impacts in their communities is exciting news for rural and regional Queensland".
"In the past, Gympie has been unable to mount a factual case for financial assistance," he said.
"Time after time when asked by the respective State and Commonwealth Ministers for our flood mitigation plan, we have embarrassingly said, we don't have one.
"The council's positive commitment to assist local businesses and residents is one which I enthusiastically support.
"The recent commitment by the council to adopt a clear plan for moving to the next phase of the flood mitigation strategy means that we are no longer guaranteed to miss out.
"Other regions have benefited financially, economically and socially from having a positive plan; it's now Gympie's turn."
Levees, stormwater expansions and flood-alert systems will be constructed in communities from the Gold Coast to Cairns using the $50 million.
Many of the multi-million dollar projects will protect homes and business in towns that have repeatedly been forced to mop up and rebuild after being swamped by flood waters.
Mr Crisafulli said at the weekend Queensland's recent run of disasters presented the perfect timing for the State to get into the business of bankrolling once-in a-lifetime infrastructure.
"This really is a game changer," he said.
"For too long we have just accepted the business as usual approach. What I want to do is start a process that doesn't accept business as usual and actually delivers protection for these communities on the ground.
"Don't ever think for one moment you are going to flood proof a state like Queensland. That is not possible but that doesn't mean we can't try to do a lot better than we have in the past."
The money will be sourced from existing programs, including the Royalties for Regions, and $25 million will be handed out this year.
It was reported earlier this year insurance companies would offer lower premiums for communities better protected from flooding.
Mr Crisafulli said the government would be holding these insurance companies to account.
"A big call for them, they have pinned their colours to the mast clearly and now we are going to hold them to account," he said.
Queensland taxpayers will spend $4 billion this year to help communities recover from extreme weather.