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Commission of Audit cut would leave Ipswich in ruins

DISASTER AREA: The One Mile Bridge and Bremer River in flood on 28 January, 2013.
DISASTER AREA: The One Mile Bridge and Bremer River in flood on 28 January, 2013. Sarah Harvey

IPSWICH would be left in ruins by a natural disaster if recommendations by the Commission of Audit to slash the Federal Government contributions to reconstruction funding by up to 60% were adopted.

That is the word from Blair MP Shayne Neumann, who has been backed by Cr Paul Tully and Ipswich West MP Sean Choat on the issue.

The recommendation by the Commission of Audit, engaged by Prime Minister Tony Abbott, has been described by Cr Tully as "one of the dumbest recommendations of all time". Cr Tully said the proposal was also "the most extreme example of penny pinching" that he had ever seen.

"Ipswich and the rest of Queensland are the hardest hit of all the Australian states when you talk about the propensity for natural disasters," he said.

"The recommendation would mean that communities like Ipswich would not be able to afford to rebuild after a flood.

"It runs counter to the Australian philosophy of helping people when they are down."

Mr Neumann said the Commission of Audit recommendation would see over $700 million in reconstruction funding cut from south-east Queensland.

He said the recommendation would have seen Ipswich still without vital infrastructure after the 2011 and 2013 floods.

"Ipswich and the Somerset region would never have received the funds required to rebuild the vital infrastructure that was destroyed," he said.

"Projects like the Esk Pedestrian Bridge in the Somerset, the Riverside boat ramp at Karalee, the One Mile Bridge in Ipswich, Geoff Fisher Bridge in Fernvale, Hancock Bridge in Brassall to name a few would have been left unusable in the aftermath of the floods.

"Locally, it would have a devastating impact on the Ipswich, Lockyer and Somerset regions if the Commission of Audit recommendations in relation to natural disasters were taken up."

Mr Choat said he would not like to see any cuts to funding and that monies for disaster recovery were "a must have".

"As far as I am concerned the Federal Government, no matter who is in power, does have an obligation and responsibility in times of natural disaster," he said.

"We have taken steps as a state government to make sure we have the funds through the Emergency Management Queensland levy."

Mr Neumann said the commission's report also recommended abolishing the Disaster Recovery Allowance which was used in Ipswich in the 2011 and 2013 floods to provide modest income support to tide flood victims over while the waters receded.

Topics:  commission of audit paul tully sean choat shayne neumann



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