After initially declining Queensland Government’s request for natural disaster funding, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has now agreed to co-fund a $741 million natural disaster resilience package.
Mr Morrison’s initial rejection was met with criticism from leaders and community members, particularly the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ).
Prior to Mr Morrison’s decision, Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) CEO, Alison Smith, said the state’s 77 councils expect all levels of government to cooperate when lives are at stake.
“These Queenslanders need all levels of government to work cooperatively, share information and reach agreement; to unlock the funding needed for recovery and resilience,” Ms Smith said.
With people living in Balonne Shire in Queensland’s south-west bracing for their third flood event this year, Ms Smith also reiterated the Association’s call for the Federal Government to fund 50 per cent of vital upgrades to Queensland’s rain and river gauge network.
“How many more floods must the nation’s most disaster-prone state endure before the Federal Government comes to the table for a full upgrade of the early flood warning detection network?” Ms Smith said.
“The groundwork for this is already done and we have made sure the Federal Government is well aware of just how far short of reliable the network currently is.”
In a statement on 7 April, Mr Morrison said, “Queenslanders just want these issues to be addressed and for funding to continue to support residents and businesses in need.
“I know many people are still doing it tough and I want to ensure the only focus of my Government is to support their needs.”
Following the funding announcement Ms Smith, said, “Councils across Queensland will breathe a sigh of relief.
“With the Federal and State governments having put politicking aside so people living in flood-affected communities can get on with rebuilding their lives.
“With more than 4,000 flood-damaged homes in urgent need of re-building following our calamitous summer of natural disasters, councils are ready to roll their sleeves up and get on with the next phase of recovery and resilience building.
“The aftermath of deadly natural disasters is not the place for political argy-bargy between different levels of government, and there is no time to waste in releasing this funding so re-building can get underway as soon as possible.
“A full upgrade of Queensland’s early flood warning detection network, including 89 extra river height stations and an additional 364 rainfall stations, will – literally – be a lifesaver.
“This vital network is currently not fit-for-purpose and at-risk communities are not getting timely, accurate information when they need it most.”
The Queensland Government has already committed to contributing 50 per cent of the funds for the network’s much-needed asset replacements, along with half of ongoing costs for the network’s operation and maintenance, with the Federal Government now agreeing to meet the other 50 per cent.
This is a developing story, stay up to date on the East Coast flood crisis here.