Bundaberg MP Tom Smith and Federal Labor Senator for Queensland Murray Watt speak with Julie Stewart from Stewart and Sons Coaches about what a flood levee would mean for her family's business. Photo: Geordi Offord.
Bundaberg MP Tom Smith and Federal Labor Senator for Queensland Murray Watt speak with Julie Stewart from Stewart and Sons Coaches about what a flood levee would mean for her family's business. Photo: Geordi Offord.

Levee business case, consultation still a sticking point

Eight years to the day after the floods of 2013, the state government has again called on the federal government to meet them half way and commit to the Bundaberg East flood levee.

As reported by the NewsMail earlier this week the State Government has renewed calls for funding but the Federal Government is holding back until a business case is produced.

Announced during the state election campaign, the state government committed $42.5 million to building the levee.

Bundaberg Regional Council also agreed to pay the ongoing maintenance costs for the infrastructure.

The levee has also gained the support of local businesses and residents who felt the brunt of the floods of 2011 and 2013.

One of those is Julie Stewart from Stewart and Sons Coaches.

The business is located on Targo St which sits next to a creek which build up during a flood event.

"We endured the 2011 and 2013 floods, to see the water was so high that we lost everything in our engineering shed as well as quickly having to find staff to move our buses, that's our livelihood our buses, so we needed to move them quickly," she said.

 

Bundaberg MP Tom Smith and Federal Labor Senator for Queensland Murray Watt speak with Julie Stewart from Stewart and Sons Coaches about what a flood levee would mean for her family's business.
Bundaberg MP Tom Smith and Federal Labor Senator for Queensland Murray Watt speak with Julie Stewart from Stewart and Sons Coaches about what a flood levee would mean for her family's business.

 

"We operated on one mobile phone for six months, so for our company 300,000 plus we lost in those floods, we have tenants in our buildings around and they lost a lot. Particularly the homes around the area and further up the creek."

She said years on from the floods they are still impacted by the natural disasters.

"We have never had the good telecommunications and good connections with our internet and other things since the floods of 2013," she said.

She said the creek behind their block also has issues with build up of debris, rubbish and mosquitoes.

"A levee would be wonderful if it helped clean out and stop any debris going back up as well as when the floods come and stops the water from coming back up so we wouldn't have to rush and move everything out of our business, as well as other people in the area and our tenants," she said.

"Time to get moving on it, I'm right there behind to have this done, it's time to be proactive."

 

Stirling Hinchliffe visited Bundaberg during the election campaign to formally announce a $42.5 million commitment for the Bundaberg East flood levee with Labor MP Tom Smith and Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey. Photo: Geordi Offord
Stirling Hinchliffe visited Bundaberg during the election campaign to formally announce a $42.5 million commitment for the Bundaberg East flood levee with Labor MP Tom Smith and Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey. Photo: Geordi Offord

 

Bundaberg MP Tom Smith said building the levee was an important part of the flood mitigation program and 10 year action plan.

"The state government has put $42.5 million on the table to make sure we can construct this levee and keep the lives and livelihoods of people in Bundaberg East and Bundaberg South safe," he said.

"We need the federal government to do their fair share, put the money on the table and lets hurry up and get this vital piece of infrastructure built.

"The business case is being finalised and will be delivered to the federal government, but there's no reason why they cannot put their cards on the table and commit to building this piece of infrastructure."

Queensland Labor senator and federal opposition spokesman for disaster management Murray Watt said Queensland regions were more exposed to natural disaster events than anywhere else in the country.

"What makes it even worse is the government actually has a $4 billion fund right now, that it announced 20 months ago, that is available to spend on projects like the Bundaberg East Flood Levee," Mr Watt said.

 

Hinkler MP Keith Pitt said the federal government would no commit funding for the levee until they saw a detailed business case.
Hinkler MP Keith Pitt said the federal government would no commit funding for the levee until they saw a detailed business case.

 

Hinkler MP Keith Pitt said the Australian Government would not commit to the funding without first seeing a detailed business case, precise costing and further community consultation.

"In my view the most important connection is the one between Tallon Bridge and Hinkler North - to build an evacuation route for those citizens in North Bundaberg and deliver emergency services (which) the State can fund now with what they've put on the table," Mr Pitt said.

"What we've seen with flood levees in other areas has been a rapid increase in cost once we start to look at it in detail … Rockhampton is a great example and went from $40 to $80 million and once money was committed, it went to over $180 million."

The Federal MP said while he was supportive of the evacuation route in North Bundaberg, he was concerned the proposed levee could split the community.

"I think the people of North Bundaberg would find that to be a welcome relief because they were disconnected during the flood from those emergency services which are located on the southside of the river," he said.

"The overwhelming reaction that I've had to my office and me personally is that the evacuation route is the number one priority (but) it's a very significant piece of engineering.

"I think we should act in the benefit of all community members … this is a divisive issue that needs to have more community consultation in my view and we certainly want to see more details around the pricing of the engineering before it's considered by the Commonwealth."

 

More stories

ADRIFT: MP calls on Feds to anchor future of flood levee

EXPLAINED: How Bundy levee could affect insurance premiums

MORE DETAILS: $42.5 million safeguard for Bundy flood zone