Leaders welcome flood fund boost talk
GYMPIE civic leaders cautiously welcomed news that moves were afoot to boost the State funding pool for hundreds of flood proofing projects.
The Gympie region is one of 48 councils to ask for a total of $950 million worth of infrastructure protection under the Betterment Funding scheme, though only $80 million has been set aside.
Gympie council's $28 million request alone would eat up more than a third of that pool, and focuses mainly on upgrading 120 culverts and creek crossings across the region.
Yesterday, it was revealed the Newman government is preparing plans for a levy and a dedicated flood project fund to be unveiled in next month's State Budget.
The levy would raise about $1 billion over four or five years via an extra charge on common household bills like electricity, rates or water.
With Gympie region families already struggling to get by on lower average incomes, higher electricity bills and, soon, a hike in the Medicare levy, Mayor Ron Dyne "welcomed the discussion" yesterday but questioned the timing of yet another household hit.
"We need to think about how the flooding issue is addressed," Cr Dyne said.
"My understanding is that the State Government wants a discussion and that is needed before a levy is imposed. Whether the money comes from a levy or general revenue then the punters will be funding it anyway.
"A discussion is required as, at present, everyone is doing it tough."
His comments were endorsed by Deputy Mayor Tony Perrett who said the timing was not good, but that it made good sense to improve key infrastructure.
Member for Gympie David Gibson said that after four floods in 12 months the Gympie region understood better than most that the cost of making Queensland more disaster resilient was significant.
"It is just common sense to build infrastructure to a better standard so we don't have to keep constantly replacing it following a disaster," he said.
"The Gympie council has put forward a list of projects for betterment funding that are sensible and have been well received by government.
"However with more than $950 million worth of proposals to protect infrastructure from future floods being received from 48 councils we need to look seriously at how we fund these projects. It is my understanding that no decision has been made regarding a possible levy, as the details of the budget are still being finalised."