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Lack of political will blamed for hold up on flood money

PLEDGE: Former PM Julia Gillard announced funding to fight flooding in the region in February, 2013.
PLEDGE: Former PM Julia Gillard announced funding to fight flooding in the region in February, 2013. Rob Williams

A COMMITMENT is one thing. Delivering on it is another.

Readers of the QT may well wonder why 18 months after $10 million in flood mitigation funding was promised to Ipswich City Council not a sod has been turned on nine key projects to protect the city during a natural disaster.

The QT investigated, because it is our job to hold government to account, and we encountered plenty of finger pointing.

Cr David Pahlke recently referred to it as "the blame game".

It is a fact that both Labor and the Coalition committed to this funding at the last federal election in September.

Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard visited the city in February 2013 in the aftermath of the Australia Day floods and committed $10 million for the projects in Ipswich, courtesy of a national insurance affordability initiative.

Ipswich West MP Sean Choat recently told the QT that the delay was due to bureaucrats in Canberra and that the blame was "with the Canberra end".

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He said that the Federal Government had to sign off on the funds and release them to the state before they could be delivered to council.

Both the current Federal Government, through Finance Minister Mathias Cormann's office, along with Queensland's Minister for Local Government David Crisafulli have blamed the former Labor Government for the subsequent delay and leaving them with a budgetary mess to clean up.

Labor's Blair MP Shayne Neumann rejected the claims made by Mr Cristafulli in a letter to the QT.

"He is talking absolute rubbish," he said

"In the federal election campaign both Labor and the Coalition committed themselves to the $10 million for flood mitigation…no matter who won the election."

Former LNP candidate for Blair Teresa Harding confirmed this in a recent email to the QT where she said:

"During my campaign last year I was successful in negotiating for the Coalition to match the… $10m for the flood recovery and resilience."

Mr Neumann said he could explain the delay.

"We budgeted for it, but the delay is the fault of the current State and Federal governments who should have been talking to one another and made sure this initiative proceeded expeditiously.

"I reckon that what has happened is that because the Coalition federally abolished this (national insurance affordability) initiative in their mid-year economic and fiscal outlook (MIFO) at the end of last year, they put it on the

backburner.

"But they did budget for it in May. It is in the budget papers. That is why I always thought they would do it.

"But it should have been done last year or early this year, because the money was already there."

Mr Crisafulli's office sent a letter to Mr Cormann's office on June 12, 2014 that the QT has obtained.

In an email from Mr Crisafulli's office explaining the timeline, that the QT has sighted, he says this:

"I can tell you that the Department of Local Government, Community Recovery and Resilience (DLGCRR) received a Project Agreement from the Federal Government for our signature in May 2014.

" Just over a month later the Department of Local Government, Community Recovery and Resilience assessed the agreement and then provided a brief to the Minister (Crisafulli).

"The Minister signed the Project Agreement which was sent on 12 June 2014. For your information and peace of mind, I have attached an email dated 12 June 2014 in which the signed agreement was sent to the Federal Government via email and mail. I have also attached the actual letter from the Minister.

"A short time later the Federal Government wrote to us requesting that we sign the agreement again as they had made an error in the original Project Agreement. We returned this within a week on 23 June 2014."

Mr Cormann's office is adamant the relevant paperwork arrived on August 4 and that it was actioned on August 5.

This means the money is on the way.

Cr David Pahlke said Mr Cormann's office had some explaining to do

"Even the amended letter was sent to them over a month before (August 4)," he said.

"It looks like the State Government has done the right thing and it is the feds that have got to come clean."

When told the money was on the way, Cr Pahlke had this to say:

"It is only because of the stories in the paper and the numerous calls from the State to the Federal government.

"It is because of media pressure, and I say thank you. But just don't say that the cheque is in the mail."

Topics:  flood mitigation



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