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Kicked in the guts by Fed's disaster relief funding

HIGH AND DRY: The Federal Government has approved one quarter of the proposed Category D funding package.
HIGH AND DRY: The Federal Government has approved one quarter of the proposed Category D funding package.

THE Deputy Premier of Queensland is "gutted" for the disaster-affected communities of Whitsunday, Mackay, Isaac and Rockhampton after the Federal Government last night failed to stump up its share of the $220million recovery package.

Under Category D disaster relief, the State had made a case for $110million from the Federal Government but we can reveal their contribution will only be $29million, which Jackie Trad's office calculates is about 0.006% of the entire Federal Budget.

It means there won't be money for the Whitsunday Coast Airport upgrade, Airlie Beach Revitalisation, Bluewater Trail and Queens Park upgrade, Shute Harbour or South Rockhampton Flood Levee.

At 5pm Friday Jackie Trad was told that the Category D disaster relief package would be $58.6million - it's timing she believes was to ensure the issue didn't generate much attention.

"This is a kick in the guts for those communities."

Under the rules of the National Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements the State Government proposes a package to the Federal Government and they decide what is ultimately funded.

Under the proposal $135million was requested for the Whitsunday Coast Airport upgrade, Shute Harbour upgrade, Airlie Beach Revitalisation, Bluewater Trail and Queens Park upgrade and South Rockhampton Flood Levee.

"These projects were identified by the local councils as an important shot in the arm," Ms Trad said last night.

However, after sitting on the application for at least one month the Federal Government has come back with just $1.5million.

The Daily Mercury understands that will be split between the Airlie Beach lagoon ($500,000 to fix pumps) and the Airlie Beach foreshore ($350,000 for landscaping and to repair infrastructure including park benches); and the Bluewater Trail in Mackay ($660,000 for that restoration work).

It's understood there is no money allocated to Shute Harbour or the Whitsunday airport.

The application for funds for the South Rockhampton Flood Levee was fraught with danger from the start, being a new infrastructure project, because NDRRA rules state Category D funding does not cover those.

"I think Malcolm Turnbull should leave his harbourside mansion and visit the people of Midge Point, the people of Lambert's Beach, Proserpine, and visit the small business and see that they are still doing it tough," Ms Trad said.

What is approved?

Of the proposal, $15million in the Environment Package was approved as well as $40million of the $60million Betterment Fundand $2.1million for Industry Recovery Officers. The Environment Package should be enough to repair Lambert's Beach and Midge Point foreshores.

Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen, whose own government signed off on the funding, was also "gutted" at the size of the kitty.

"I accept there is some reasons that has been given," he said.

The example he used was the project that would see the restoration of Shute Harbour. "I've been told that there are inconsistencies in the amount of funding requested by the State Government (for the Shute Harbour project) and the amount of damage noted and unanswered questions about insurance on the facility," he said.

But, he has pledged to support the Whitsunday and Mackay mayors.

"I want to go down there to Canberra with the mayors and try and salvage the funding for worthy projects that didn't meet the testing here."

Mr Christensen said he believed the situation was "a dog's breakfast" with varying levels of understanding of what is and isn't covered by Category D funding.

Topics:  category d funding cyclone debbie mackay mackay news mackay regional council rockhampton whitsunday


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