THE Queensland Government has announced it will fight for Category D flood assistance for the badly damaged Burnett-Bundaberg regions.
The Newman Government is seeking activation of Category D assistance under the National Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA) for areas worst hit by the Australia Day floods.
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Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney said today the Premier had written to the Prime Minister and the Queensland Government was now awaiting a response.
“In the hardest hit areas of the Burnett and Bundaberg, Category D assistance under the NDRRA will be critical for the economic recovery of the region and is urgently needed,” Mr Seeney told Parliament this afternoon.
“Intensive agricultural industries are central to the regional economy. Those industries are based along the river and, as we heard yesterday, they have been hard hit by the natural disaster.
“The citrus orchards stretching from north of Mundubbera to south of Gayndah in the central Burnett and the horticultural farms closer to Bundaberg are big employers and provide the basis for a range of other service industries and small business service providers.
Mr Seeney said maintaining employment levels was critical.
“The key to any economic recovery in the Burnett is to maintain the high employment levels in what have always been labour intensive industries,” he said.
Mr Seeney said the Newman Government had moved quickly to expedite the assistance measures available under the NDRRA following the destruction and devastation caused by ex-tropical cyclone Oswald.
Categories A and B assistance were activated in the early stages of the natural disaster and Category C declarations have been rolled out progressively - with more areas declared yesterday.
The Federal Government said it would look at including even more areas.
Mr Seeney said Category D was the next step.
“These producers need to be able to rebuild and repair their businesses so they can keep underwriting the local economies,” he said.
“The ball is now firmly in the Commonwealth's court to activate Category D so the economic recovery can be expedited.”
Horticulture peak industry body Growcom chief executive Alex Livingstone had been calling for Category D assistance since last week.
Areas already receiving Categories A, B and C NDRRA assistance are:
- Bundaberg Regional Council
- Fraser Coast Regional Council
- North Burnett Regional Council
- Lockyer Valley Regional Council
- Gympie Regional Council
- South Burnett Regional Council
- Gladstone Regional Council
- Scenic Rim Regional Council
- Parts of Ipswich City Council
- Parts of Somerset Regional Council
- Parts of Goondiwindi Regional Council
- Parts of Banana Regional Council
- Parts of Toowoomba Regional Council
Mr Livingstone said the industry also needed wage subsidies to help growers keep existing staff.
“Wage subsidies are urgently needed to pay farm labour in the face of weeks and months ahead of storm clean-up without farm income,” Mr Livingstone said.
He also called for the appointment of Industry Recovery Officers (IROs) to help growers access assistance as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
Transport and Main Roads Minister Scott Emerson said road and transport infrastructure costing $1.1 billion would form a pipeline of flood recovery work released to market over the next five months.
More than 80 representatives from the construction and contracting industry were briefed yesterday about the upcoming works.
“I’ve made it clear to industry that we want innovation to deliver more resilient infrastructure as we begin the repair process,” Mr Emerson said.
“We’ve already let five repair contracts within three weeks of the floodwaters receding and within the next five months there is about $1.1 billion of works to be released to the market.
“Assessments are also underway on a further $1.5 billion of infrastructure, but I want all contracts for works from the events of early 2013 to market by the end of this year.
“Communities want their repair works under way faster and they want their infrastructure more resilient, and this is what we are preparing to deliver.”