CAT D FUNDING BOOST
AFTER months of political argy-bargy between the State and Federal Governments on their Disaster Recovery commitments, the Whitsundays has finally secured a win.
The Federal government this week pledged $18.8 million on top of their initial $29 million NDRRA funding, bringing the joint commitment to $96 million.
Shute Harbour was the biggest beneficiary from the decision with $15.2 million going towards what was once the second biggest harbour in Australia.
There will also be $1.8 million for the seawall betterment component of Shute Harbour.
Whitsunday Mayor Andrew Willcox welcomed the decision and said he hoped the “political games” were over.
“What I’m hoping for now, is we don’t have any delays in this money coming through so we can actually start our projects as we are coming into another storm season now,” he said.
“We have a council office in Proserpine which is not habitable which we have to fix and sort out. There is plenty of work to do and we don’t want any games being played when it comes to the projects we put forward.”
Federal Justice Minister Michael Keenan rejected the notion political pressure had been a factor.
“We required basic information from the (State) Government about what was damaged and we were chasing it for five months... that has been provided to us now but it has taken far too long,” he said.
In reply, Deputy Premier Jackie Trad signalled the war-of-words was set to continue.
“The Federal government has been dragged kicking and screaming to provide additional money for the Category D funding,” she said.
“But it’s still less than half of what we asked them when we put together the Category D package with the support of local Councils.”
One of the projects not covered by the new commitment was the Whitsunday Coast Airport application.
Dawson MP George Christensen said this never qualified for funding.
“The original State Government request included a proposed Rockhampton flood levy and new upgrades to the Whitsunday Coast Airport,” Mr Christensen said.
“They simply did not meet the criteria and should never have been listed in the first place.
“With those two projects removed, the figure needed was around $100 million and that is the outcome we have now achieved.
“The total bill to both (the) state and federal government for Cyclone Debbie recovery is likely to be around $1 billion, and the Federal Government picks up 75% of the cost – that’s a significant investment in our region by anyone’s standard.”
BOOST: Shute Harbour suffered significant damage as a result of Cyclone Debbie.