Australian Coat of Arms

Member for Blaxland

Shadow Minister for Trade and Investment

Shadow Minister for Resources and Northern Australia 

Consideration in Detail: Rockhampton Levee

Federation Chamber

 

Can I start by saying how disappointed I am that the Deputy Prime Minister isn’t here. This is our opportunity to scrutinise the Resources Portfolio and the Northern Australia Portfolio.

He has the responsibility to in the House of Representatives to represent the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia and the fact that he’s not here to face the music and answer questions put by Representative’s in the House is very disappointing. And I think shows us the disregard with which he thinks of this process.

But hopefully the Minister for Health can answer some of these questions.

HUNT: I’m offended.

I’ll be offended if you don’t answer the question, because that’s the point of this process.

And what I want to ask first is why do you keeps stalling on building a flood levee for the people of Rockhampton.

This is a levee that will protect around 1,500 properties in the southern part of Rockhampton.

More than 1,000 families live in that area and a lot of local businesses.

Anybody that has paid any attention to this over the last decade will know the area keeps flooding time after time.

It happened in 2008, 2011, 2013, 2015 and happened again this year in the wake of Cyclone Debbie.

And it is going to keep happening unless we do something about it.

And the damage and the clean-up bill costs of doing this cost the community a fortune, we’re talking tens of millions of dollars every time Rockhampton floods.

It also cuts off 3,000 people from their job and shuts down local businesses.

One of them is a business run by a bloke called Josh Whitcombe in Depot Hill.

Last time when Rockhampton flooded - in April - it cost his business $20,000.

He told the local paper, The Morning Bulletin "It's too expensive to have insurance down here for flood damage”.

Instead he just has to close, he packs everything up and waits until the floodwater recedes again.

He wants a levee to protect his business and he’s not the only one.

The Government is prevaricating on this and delaying saying there’s not community support.

Well this is a survey that was done by the local Council in 2013, funded with the help of the local University CQU. It says 64 per cent of the community want a flood levee. 25 percent are unsure and 9 per cent don’t want it.

So you’ve got support, you’ve got majority support in the community

64 per cent want it, another 25 per cent are unsure. Overwhelming support.

They want it to protect their homes from being flooded again and again, and their businesses.

We’ve been talking this for 25 years. Some of us where still at university then. It shouldn’t take this long to resolve a matter as serious as simple as building a flood levee for the people of Rockhampton.

The only thing that is missing is the money and the will to do it.

Council has designed the levee - it has been through all the official processes.

It’ll cost $60 million to build the flood levee. As I said before, the last three floods have cost more than that.

The Council is willing to put in $10 million.

The State Government have offered to put in $25 million.

So there’s $25 million missing.

We have said as an opposition in this place that if we are elected at the next election we will make that $25 million available to build it. But it shouldn’t have to wait for an election.

There could be another flood between now and then.

Now if the Government has $65 billion in the Budget to give away to companies, if it has got $6 billion to give away to millionaires for a tax cut, why can’t they find $25 million for the people of Rockhampton to stop the place flooding again?

It tells you everything about this Government’s priorities.

And again, I’m disappointed that Barnaby Joyce, the Deputy Prime Ministers is not here.

Because before the last election when they were in Opposition he wrote to Rockhampton Council.

He wrote to the Mayor who was desperately arguing for this flood levee and said “your project looks like it has a strong case… I will ensure it receives strong consideration from the Coalition.”

Well it’s now four years later and we’re still waiting, and Rockhampton has flooded twice since then.

It’s time to stop talking and it’s time that this Government back flipped and delivered the money needed to build that flood levee for the people of Rockhampton.

So I want an answer form the Minister, when are you going to do it?