Big state, big job

Townsville Bulletin - - Voice Of The North - opin­ion Ma­jor- Gen­eral Mick Slater, Queens­land Re­con­struc­tion Au­thor­ity

QUEENS­LAND’S Re­con­struc­tion Au­thor­ity does not sit in Bris­bane and make grandiose plans and big de­ci­sions about spend­ing tax­payer’s money with­out con­sult­ing lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties.

We are speak­ing with com­mu­ni­ties across the state through their city and re­gional coun­cils and ac­cept that as the elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives of their com­mu­ni­ties they know best the com­mu­ni­ties needs.

There­fore it is im­por­tant to make sure that your coun­cil is clearly aware of your views and needs. Most coun­cils have been quick to point out the in­fra­struc­ture dam­age their ar­eas have sus­tained and its im­pact on the lo­cal econ­omy and I am con­fi­dent that in a rea­son­able amount of time to­gether we will ef­fec­tively re­build what has been lost and our econ­omy will be re­ju­ve­nated. How­ever, of greater im­por­tance at present is the at­ten­tion we pay to help­ing in­di­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies re­build their dam­aged homes and I hear less from coun­cils on this sub­ject. I think ev­ery­one ap­pre­ci­ates how im­por­tant this is but they are daunted by the dif­fi­culty of the task we face in some ar­eas.

While the re­spon­si­bil­ity for restora­tion of res­i­den­tial prop­erty lies with the prop­erty owner there is a role for the Queens­land Re­con­struc­tion Au­thor­ity to as­sist. We are do­ing this on a large scale work­ing with coun­cils to ex­pe­dite ap­provals for new hous­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties etc but as we tra­verse Queens­land I hear many sto­ries of per­sonal hard­ship as fam­i­lies try to re­build their dam­aged homes.

I have been im­pressed by the ca­pac­ity, com­pas­sion and de­ter­mi­na­tion of many gov­ern­ment and non-gov­ern­ment agency staff as they have found hous­ing so­lu­tions for thou­sands of peo­ple across Queens­land. The Depart­ment of Com­mu­ni­ties is of­ten cri­tiqued for its han­dling of peo­ple, but I have seen it’s mem­bers do­ing out­stand­ing work all across Queens land as they have played a cen­tral role in look­ing af­ter the hous­ing needs of those most af­fected by floods and cy­clones. Many peo­ple I speak to have spo­ken warmly of the Depart­ment’s case of­fi­cers.

In­surance com­pa­nies also have a ma­jor role to play in the re­build­ing of our homes and towns. Un­for­tu­nately, I gen­er­ally hear only neg­a­tive sto­ries about in­surance com­pa­nies as home a nd s mall b us i nes s own­ers when deal­ing with in­surance com­pa­nies seem to ne­go­ti­ate nu­mer­ous ob­sta­cles, suf­fer un­ex­plained de­lays and find their claims re­jected with­out rea­son­able ex­pla­na­tions.

Very oc­ca­sion­ally I do hear of good timely re­sponses from in­di­vid­ual in­surance com­pa­nies.

One or two com­pany names ap­pear to pop up far more of­ten than the rest and I think that the com­mu­nity could ben­e­fit from a knowl­edge of which com­pa­nies have re­sponded most pos­i­tively to the needs of Queens­lan­ders in re­cent months. Bet­ter in­formed choices with re­gard to in­surance in the fu­ture will con­trib­ute t o our r esi l i ence and al­though noth­ing is more im­por­tant than un­der­stand­ing the word­ing of your in­surance pol­icy, know­ing an in­surance com­pany’s track record for re­spon­sive­ness is im­por­tant.

Fi­nally, I vis­ited a num­ber of com­mu­ni­ties with HRH Prince Wil­liam and I know that many peo­ple were dis­ap­pointed that they did not get the op­por­tu­nity to speak di­rectly with the HRH, but I can as­sure you that he was touched by the plight of all Queens­lan­ders who en­dured the cy­clones and flood­ing. His com­pas­sion and em­pa­thy was very clear and he too would have liked the op­por­tu­nity to spend more time in each lo­ca­tion; how­ever, he now un­der­stands what we have al­ways known and that is that Queens­land is a big State and you can’t stand in one place too long if you are go­ing to cover as much ground as pos­si­ble.

MOVED: P r i n c e Wi l l i a m wa s t o u c h e d b y t h e p l i g h t o f a l l Queens­lan­ders who en­dured the cy­clones and flood­ing

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