Troops head to coast
SOLDIERS will be sent to the Cassowary Coast to speed up the post-Yasi clean-up effort amid fears a new cyclone could develop next week.
Eighteen soldiers and five vehicles from the Townsville-based 3rd Brigade will travel to the region today to bolster the local clean-up effort.
The Army Task Element, equipped with two Mack dump trucks, a frontend loader, and chainsaws will start their work this morning at Mission Beach and is prepared to work for 48 hours.
Commander 3rd Brigade, Brigadier Stuart Smith, said the task element included soldiers who had completed emergency response tasks following Cyclone Yasi so they were well prepared to support local emergency services.
A spokesman for federal AttorneyGeneral Robert McClelland, whose department is responsible for Emergency Management Australia, said the
It is a priority to get all this cleaned up, so that’s great news
– Bill Shannon
deployment was based on a request for help from the local council.
Cassowary Coast Mayor Bill Shannon welcomed the deployment, saying it would have taken the council another week to clean up debris from Yasi, which hit the region early last month.
‘‘ It is a priority to get all this cleaned up, so that’s great news,’’ Mr Shannon said.
The Bureau of Meteorology says there is a moderate chance a lowpressure system which formed in the Coral Sea on Friday could develop into a cyclone on Monday.
L O C A L s u b - c o n t r a c t o r s working on the city’s clean-up are angry with council, saying southerners are being favoured for remaining work and locals are being laid off as the job winds down.
Council Watch Group chairman Jonathan Mehigan said yesterday eight crews had been laid off, and a subcontractor who contacted the Townsville Bulletin said 20 local workers had been laid off on Tuesday and Wednesday while southerners had been retained.
‘‘ It is a council job and the council should be taking care of locals,’’ he said.
Townsville City Council park services executive manager Ray Collins said over the past week or so, as the clean- up advanced, the required number of contractors had fallen by about 20.
‘‘ But local contractors make up about 90 per cent of those still on the job,’’ he said.
‘‘ Millions of dollars are being pumped into the economy through the clean-up and the massive sweep of the city has been a boost for local contractors who had priority.’’
The sub-contractor said he and nine others had been given their marching orders this week.
‘‘ We were told we would not be needed after Friday but, the way we see it, southerners will still be working,’’ he said.
‘‘ Our question to the council is: Why? We are locals.
‘‘ What we earn will be spent to benefit the Townsville community whereas what the southerners earn will be spent down south.
‘‘ This is our city and should be our job first.
‘‘ I and others have families
it to feed and they are taking our work.’’
Another sub-contractor said there would easily have been more than 100 trucks involved in the clean-up before the layoffs, which began last week.
‘‘ I and a lot of others don’t think it is right that locals are being told to go home while subbies from southern areas are still working,’’ he said.
‘‘ We didn’t go south to take their jobs after the floods and, while we don’t begrudge them coming up and helping, we don’t think they should be favoured for the remaining work.’’
Mr Collins said about 70 of the 80 contractors still working on the clean-up were local and included larger companies.
‘‘ The council has used local resources first wherever possible and looked elsewhere for special equipment and personnel that couldn’t be found in the city,’’ he said.