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Flood mitigation funding 'nowhere near enough': Newman

CITY VISIT: Prime Minister Julia Gillard speaking at the Ipswich Turf Club last November.
CITY VISIT: Prime Minister Julia Gillard speaking at the Ipswich Turf Club last November.

PREMIER Campbell Newman says Queensland has been short-changed in the $100 million flood mitigation package announced by Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Thursday.

Ms Gillard used her 11th trip to Ipswich in six years to announce the establishment of a National Insurance Affordability Initiative and $85 million in flood relief for Queensland.

A National Insurance Affordability Council will be established under the NIAI charged with making recommendations on natural disaster mitigation projects, as well as monitoring insurance costs.

Ms Gillard revealed three projects had already been identified for immediate work under the two-year scheme, but controversially half of the scheme's $100 million will be used to raise the Warragamba Dam in western Sydney.

The other priority projects were both Queensland-based - $7 million to build a levee in Roma and $10 million to upgrade the Ipswich levee - with the remaining $33 million still to be allocated.

Financial Services Minister Bill Shorten said the scheme had the backing of the Insurance Council of Australia and would help reduce soaring insurance premiums in the most flood-affected parts of the country.

Mr Newman welcomed the flood mitigation funding but said $17 million was nowhere near enough for Queensland.

He said the it would "break hearts" in flood-ravaged communities across the state.

"The people of Gympie must be wondering how much suffering they need to endure before the Gillard government puts their livelihoods before votes in western Sydney," he said.

"Not to say that western Sydney residents should not receive assistance to protect themselves from flooding, but any flooding expert can see that the flood impacts on Queensland communities have been far greater.

"If the Gillard government is going to fund flood mitigation in a way that is fair and targets the areas that are most susceptible, then clearly Queensland communities like Gympie, Emerald, Rockhampton, Maryborough and Bundaberg deserve a bigger slice of the funding pie."

Ms Gillard told reporters Queensland had received more money per capita than any other state since the 2011 floods.

Mr Newman was also critical of the $40 million Betterment Fund announced by Ms Gillard.

While he vowed his government would match the contribution, he said it was considerably short of the $100 million he had requested from the Commonwealth.

Areas like Bundaberg will be targeted through the fund to help rebuild and flood-proof council-owned roads and assets.

"We're hoping the funding can help us end the cycle where some road is washed away, a local facility is hit, it is fixed, and floods come 12 months later and it is flooded or damaged again," Ms Gillard said.

A $45 million Support Package, also announced on Thursday, contains a raft of measures aimed at helping the state recover from the latest round of devastating floods.

Money will be available to Queensland's worst-hit areas and includes specialised assistance to aid clean-up efforts, community recovery initiatives, affected businesses, primary producers and day labour costs.

Around $120 million has been paid to more than 100,000 disaster-affected Queenslanders since January through the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payments.

 

PM announces flood relief funds for Queensland

PRIME Minister Julia Gillard visited Ipswich this morning to announce a $45 million support package to help Queenslanders recover and rebuild after the Australia Day floods.

The announcement was part of a broader flood relief package, part of which also includes an assistance scheme aimed at reducing flood insurance premiums.

The CEO of the Insurance Council of Australia welcomed the commitment, saying it was a significant financial step towards protecting the viability and sustainability of many flood-prone communities.

The Commonwealth will also contribute $40 million toward a fund that will rebuild council-owned roads and assets so they are more flood proof.

Federal MP Shayne Neumann said that included $10 million towards nine of Ipswich City Council's top 10 flood projects.

The Federal Government has challenged the State Government to match its funding commitment.

 

PM makes yet another visit to Ipswich

PRIME Minister Julia Gillard makes her 11th visit in six years to Ipswich today to meet with flood victims and make an expected announcement about flood mitigation funding.

Ms Gillard will meet Ipswich home owners, farmers and business owners at a local cafe for a coffee and to hear their experiences before outlining her government's plans.

But LNP candidate for Blair Teresa Harding said Ms Gillard was merely "electioneering" and that her government had "given up on preparing a strong budget".

Blair MP Shayne Neumann said Ms Gillard's visit was not to shore up support in his seat of Blair.

"The Prime Minister is worried we have had three major floods in under three years.

"She has come here often because I have invited her as a member of parliament," Mr Neumann said.

"We've been making regular announcements and pouring money into the Ipswich region, with everything from a cancer clinic to the new sandbagging machine."

How do you rate the Federal Government's response to the Queensland floods disaster?

This poll ended on 07 March 2013.

Excellent - 21%

Adequate - 12%

Slightly below par - 16%

Unacceptable - 50%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Mr Neumann said he had been pushing hard on the flood mitigation issue in parliament and that there was "a bucket of money available" to deal with it.

"There will be an announcement made in terms of how monies will be made available to improve flood mitigation and resilience," he said.

"We need to look at what steps we are undertaking in terms of subdivisions, reclamations of land, flood detention basins, pipes and drains ... and other steps we need to undertake such as levies.

"We need to do a whole host of things to improve the flood mitigation locally because we have had 17 floods since 1840 and three in the past three years.

"I have absolutely gone to the mattresses on this issue, as they say in The Godfather ... which means going to war. I have done this on behalf of Ipswich residents."

But Ms Harding said "normally at this time of year governments work around the clock preparing the budget".

"Having already given up the commitment of a surplus, it is clear Labor has given up on preparing a strong budget," she said.

"Instead of working every day to protect Australian jobs, Julia Gillard and Labor have only been focused on theirs. Locals want a Prime Minister at work making sure the budget is in surplus, debt is reduced and the waste is ended, like the $6 billion on boats.

"Only the Liberal Nationals have a plan to deliver a strong, prosperous economy and a safe, secure Australia."

Topics:  flood aid, ipswich visit, julia gillard


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