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Lockyer Valley Council still owed $6m in flood money

DECIMATED: The aftermath of the 2011 floods that devastated Grantham and the region.
DECIMATED: The aftermath of the 2011 floods that devastated Grantham and the region. Contributed

IT is the $6 million kick in the guts from the State Government that the people of the Lockyer Valley don't deserve.

Lockyer Valley Mayor Steve Jones is outraged that his council is still owed $6 million in flood reconstruction money he says was promised after the 2011 floods.

The floods saw 12 people in the Lockyer Valley lose their lives and millions of dollars worth of damage done to homes and businesses.

In the aftermath national disaster relief arrangements were provided through the Queensland Reconstruction Authority, which comes under the umbrella of now Community Recovery and Resilience Minister David Crisafulli.

Cr Jones said the reconstruction work done after the floods was at the request of the former State Government.

"What happened in the post disaster period of 2011 is that we funded a lot of the reconstruction ourselves," he said.

"But we did have to borrow $11 million to pay for some of the immediate works.

"That was supposed to have been repaid to us out of national disaster relief arrangements.

"But the state didn't come good and there is $6 million they haven't paid us back.

"They are not now arguing that to say they weren't eligible works (for funding) but a lot of that work was requested by them."

"A number of things they owe us for are the things that the Premier of the time (Anna Bligh) personally came out and requested that we do immediately in the days straight after the flood.

"When we moved the Grantham town to higher ground there was a whole heap of consultation work that had to be undertaken to get the people on board to understand the project to move their houses.

"They told us we couldn't move the town unless we did that work. They said it would be eligible for funding. Now they say it is not."

The QT took Cr Jones' grievances to the office of Mr Crisafulli, who said he would act if provided with evidence.

"I understand this has been a very emotional time for Cr Jones and the community. It would be easy for me to blame former Premier Bligh, but I won't criticise actions made in the chaos of the immediate aftermath of the floods," Mr Crisafulli said.

"If there is even a skerrick of information that can be used to back up the claim, I will personally take up the case to see if it can satisfy the Commonwealth's Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements.

"In the meantime, I urge Lockyer Valley Council to start work on the disaster mitigation projects in areas such as Forest Hill that the State Government has funded."

Cr Jones said that, as requested, the council employed consultants Jude Munroe and Associates to assist with the flood reconstruction works and documentation.

"We have the accounts for when we paid them. We have all sorts of written reports, some by us and some by them," he said.

"We have receipts, documents and media articles and we are happy to provide any of that information.

"I have personally met with Crisafulli, with people from my council, on at least three occasions.

"I had a recent meeting in the last fortnight with the heads of Queensland Reconstruction Authority."

Mr Jones said that Mr Crisafulli "is not very helpful".

"I have been a supporter of the National Party all my life and a member of it since I was 18, and we have never been treated worse by any government than we have by this crew," he said.

"Various things the Premier of the time insisted we do for her, they now won't fund.

"A lot of these deals were done in the weeks after the floods when I was out in the mud helping people. To us this is a lot more than a money exercise. We had 12 people lose their lives in the Lockyer Valley. And we deal with the emotion of this every day of our lives."

"It is a gross injustice what they are doing."

Topics:  david crisafulli, mayor steve jones, queensland reconstruction authority




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