Craig Warhurst

Floods disaster funding madness

FEDERAL and state disaster payment rules have created a financial nightmare for councils battling to carry out flood repairs, Gympie Region councillors heard yesterday.

Council Works Committee chairman Larry Friske told yesterday’s committee meeting the funding arrangements discriminated against councils who used their permanent day labour force to carry out the repairs, even though this was the cheapest and quickest way to achieve results.

However, he told councillors of a scheme to circumvent the funding restrictions.

“Ridiculous” and “ludicrous” were words used yesterday to describe state and federal disaster relief policies which are delaying and adding huge costs to Queensland’s flood recovery effort.

But Gympie Region councillors yesterday heard of a plan by the Local Government Association of Queensland to circumvent the restrictions and save councils millions of dollars.

However, the council Works and Services Committee was told that the scheme, while apparently legal, could further delay urgent flood recovery efforts.

The problems under discussion were connected to government insistence that councils would only be entitled to disaster funding for work carried out by contractors, rather than by the council’s cheaper and better informed day labour force.

“It’s ridiculous,” said Deputy Mayor Tony Perrett. “It amazes me that we can trade staff across council boundaries and meet federal and state requirements, but when we use our own staff for what they are supposed to do, we’re not eligible.”

“Our workers know the region better than anyone else and there is urgency,” he said.

“Contractors will ultimately cost the state more (and take longer).”

Mayor Ron Dyne said it “seems ludicrous that a team comes across a council boundary” with more downtime, more expensive design requirements and longer travelling time.

“The commonwealth needs to re-assess this,” he said.

Cr Frisk said he believed the state government was “hamstrung” by federal requirements.

Engineering director Bob Fredman told the meeting council workers were “still delivering flood repairs in the most cost effective and timely manner.” The LGAQ scheme was apparently legal but would cause delays, he said.

Gympie Times


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