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Flood funding finishes on a low

Eliza Rogers, Friday November 29, 2013 - 17:54 EDT
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Brad Crosbie from BMRG and Bundaberg lychee farmer Karen Jones celebrate after the big clean-up. - ABC

The Australia Day floods in southern Queensland were recorded as the worst in decades, but the uptake of government assistance wasn't as high as after the 2011 floods.

Applications for flood funding closed today, with a total 5000 farmers, small businesses and groups accessing $80 million in funding.

That's about a third of the people that asked for help after the floods and cyclone in 2011.

All together, 4,032 farmers, 851 small businesses and 136 not-for-profit groups shared in $65 million under Category C, which provided up to $25,000 for repairs.

Forty-nine grant and loan packages totalling $15.75 million were approved under Category D, which offered concessional loans of up to $650,000 with a delayed interest rate of 1.7 per cent.

A smaller disaster area and strong farmer pride were believed to be behind the lower uptake this time around.

The Queensland Farmers Federation had been helping coordinate the recovery, and communications officer Brad Pfeffer said the work had been much more concentrated.

"The flood this year was very different.... for some people, it was more like a flash flood, but the impacts were less for some," he said.

"And also, last time around, there was Cyclone Yasi in there as well... this time around, it's been a much more specific event."

The Burnett Mary Regional Group also had problems with low uptake of its flood recovery projects.

Project officer Brad Crosbie says some canegrowers claimed they didn't need help from a Work for the Dole group that was removing debris from flooded properties.

But it was a happy occasion when the group met recently to celebrate the end of its work, which ended up multiplying over the time.

"We started off with 12 (workers), and because of the amount of work, we've actually got 24 blokes here now," he said.

"It's great to see all the community get in just to help everyone out."

Craig McCredie from Melbourne was working with the group for the past few weeks helping clean up a damaged lychee farm.

"I've never worked on an orchard before where there's been mud and rubbish hanging in the trees with fruit still on them," he said.

The lychee farmer he'd been working for said it had been hard to ask for help.

Karen Jones from North Bundaberg lost trees and irrigation systems in the floods, which dumped more than 10 truckloads of debris onto her farm.

"I've had many relatives assist when we've been in trouble with the floods, but this being the second flood, I didn't like to ask so much," she said.

"We did need help... It saves you sitting there scratching your head."

The next phase of recovery work will continue under a program to improve on-farm productivity and riparian recovery.

The $15 million program has been helping landowners rehabilitate farm land and redesign flood defences, and set up flood-resilient cropping practices.

The Category C and D assistance was administered by the Queensland Rural Adjustment Authority.


© ABC 2013

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