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Flood-hit Queenslanders may be moved to higher ground

By Annie Guest, staff, Monday February 4, 2013 - 14:51 EDT
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Premier Campbell Newman and Police Minister Jack Dempsey tour Rockhampton earlier this week - ABC

The Queensland Government has raised the prospect of abandoning some flood-prone areas and relocating residents and businesses to higher ground.

It was a strategy employed in the Lockyer Valley town of Grantham, where the 2011 floods claimed more than a dozen lives.

Queensland Premier Campbell Newman toured the North Burnett towns of Gayndah and Mundubbera, south-west of Bundaberg, on Friday.

With hundreds of homes and businesses wiped out by flooding for the second time in 24 months, he wondered about the sense in rebuilding.

"It's no longer good enough, or acceptable, for the federal and state governments to keep writing out cheques to replace the same sections of the same roads that were flooded out two years ago, probably 10 years ago, and many times over the last 50 years," he said.

"We've got to do things better."

It is not yet clear how flood victims will respond to the idea, but with the damage bill at almost $2.5 billion, change is coming.

Mr Newman is calling on federal and local governments to support a new way forward, and says new infrastructure should be built to withstand natural disasters.

"It's about trying to build things to better standards, to get them out of the flood waters, to actually build levees in certain towns, to relocate sections of communities, as they did with Grantham last time," he said.

In Gayndayh, Queensland's citrus-growing centre, there has been concern about a lack of assistance.

Two protesters yesterday waved placards saying: "Go home Newman, you're seven days too late."

But other residents understood he was busy elsewhere.

"There's been a lot of people affected worse than us and he's just letting us know that's what they've been doing," one woman said.

"They're still waiting for help. My husband hasn't slept for four days and we really want to have some assistance, so that's why I came along today, to try to push the barrow a little bit further."

Mr Newman moved to reassure the flood-weary residents that they will be looked after.

"You probably feel you were forgotten. I assure you most whole-heartedly, you were not," he said.

He said there just were not enough resources to send to the town earlier.

Rockhampton on alert

Meanwhile, authorities say the Fitzroy River at Rockhampton is predicted to peak at 8.7-metres at some stage tonight.

That is still well short of the 2011 level of 9.2 metres.

Deputy Mayor Tony Williams says there should not be too many problems.

"We're still working through a flood peak to come to Rockhampton," he said.

"Something like our community in the local area with floods can deal with quite well and move on and get into the recovery phase rather quickly."


© ABC 2013

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