Newman and entourage hear flood woes

Ron Dyne and Campbell Newman having a walk around Gympie after the flood.
Ron Dyne and Campbell Newman having a walk around Gympie after the flood. Renee Pilcher

PREMIER Campbell Newman set a brisk pace when he called through Gympie yesterday.

Accompanied by Housing and Public Works Minister Tim Mander and Community Safety Minister Jack Dempsey, the Premier dragged a media and advisor entourage from Jaycee Way to Mary St.

Among those almost running to keep up were Mayor Ron Dyne and MP David Gibson, who took the chance to emphasise local issues.

Much as the high-level contingent was on its urgent way to flood ravaged Bundaberg, the Premier took the time and expense to land the government plane at Kybong aerodrome and let us know we were not forgotten.

Tony Alford and Kane Kelso told of the real financial hardship caused by flood disruption at their Cooloola Panel and Paint business.

Real estate agent Nathan O'Neill, of Harcourts, took a break from flood renovations to explain how the sudden height of the flood had risen just high enough to damage the Gyprock on the upper section of his office walls.

Across the street at Billy's, Lesley Mitchell said her business was not going anywhere, but she did not relish the thought of any further floods.

The only glitch seemed to be when minders rushed the Premier past the Royal Hotel, after warning management to be ready for a visit.

Then it was across to Gympie's oldest business, this newspaper.

Gympie's flood resilience and disaster management skills could mean we will "save Queensland again," Community Safety Minister Jack Dempsey said in Gympie yesterday.

From the man who represents possibly Queensland's most seriously smashed flood disaster area, Bundaberg, it was a highly relevant compliment.

Referring to the historical reality that Gympie gold saved the new state of Queensland from bankruptcy, Mr Dempsey acknowledged the high level of disaster preparedness and the uniquely developed survival skills of a community which suffers flood frequently.

Mr Dempsey accompanied Premier Newman and Housing Public Works Minister Tim Mander on an understandably rushed visit.

"Don't forget," said Mr Dempsey as the entourage climbed aboard a Polley's bus, "Gympie could well be the town that saves Queensland again".

Campbell Newman visits Gympie after the flood.
Campbell Newman visits Gympie after the flood. Renee Pilcher

Mayor Ron Dyne took the chance to lobby the Premier about helping devastated farmers cope with up to three years without income, after successive floods.

Losses of roads, fences, buildings, equipment, crops and livestock were serious issues throughout the region, but never more so than in the far west of the council area, centering on Kilkivan and Goomeri.

Cr Dyne said he would also be raising these concerns with Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney, whose Callide electorate takes in much of Gympie's western districts.

"He's concerned not only for primary producers in the Gympie Regional Council area, but right across the impacted area," the Mayor said later.

"Certainly he is aware of the need for them to get the right recompense to get them on their feet again.

"Successive floods mean three years without income for some.

"He understands the situation and is liaising to have an upgrade (in the compensation classification system) to Category D.

"We've got Category C, which is limited to $25,000.

"Obviously Category D is a better system.

"A lot of the areas so damaged in Gympie Region are in the Burnett catchment and flowed down to Bundaberg," he said.

Not so happy was Stacey Lowe, of The Royal Hotel.

"Someone came in and warned us the Premier would be calling in, so we could be ready, but then they just rushed past," the disappointed hotel manager said.

Over in a flash, it seemed.

Gympie Times

Topics:  campbell newman david gibson gympie jack dempsey ron dyne tim mander

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