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Labor election promise of $42m for flood levee to protect parts of Bundaberg

By Johanna Marie, Tuesday October 13, 2020 - 17:10 EDT
ABC image
The Burnett River inundated Bundaberg's Kennedy Bridge in 2010. - ABC

Labor says if re-elected it will spend $42.5 million towards a new levee to protect hundreds of homes and businesses in Bundaberg from major flooding.

Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe today visited East State School, which he said would be among the properties safeguarded by the $80 million levee.

"Six hundred buildings ... it's a huge number of properties and assets," he said.

The election commitment is part of the Government's 10-year plan to protect the city from widespread flood events such as those in 2010-11 and 2013.

Speaking in Maryborough, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she hoped work would start as quickly as possible.

"A lot of detailed planning had to go in to make sure that we actually got it right," she said.

Construction is expected to take three years and create 679 jobs but still requires an equal commitment from the Commonwealth.

"I'm now calling on the Federal Government to put their money where their mouth is ... support this important community safety project," the Premier said.

But David Batt, the Liberal National Party's Member for Bundaberg, criticised the Government for not taking action sooner to flood-proof the city.

"It is really disappointing that Labor have made this into a political argument for an election commitment," he said.

"For the last five years they've talked about flood-proofing Bundaberg.

"This Government could have committed to this before they went into caretaker mode but they are trying to buy votes, not support the Bundaberg community."

Mr Batt said his priority would be improved evacuation routes for Bundaberg North residents.

Compensation for properties on riverside

More than 20 residents and business owners on the outside of the levee are concerned their properties will be left worthless and uninsurable and have called for compensation.

Mr Hinchliffe said the levee would not worsen flooding for those properties but that the Government was open to discussing compensation options.

"All of the modelling demonstrates that there would not be any worse impacts than were experienced in the 2013 floods," he said.

"Unfortunately they can't be saved from the impacts of any future flood, but this does provide massive benefits for a much broader part of the community.

"We would be open to submissions made by any number of people, as I'm sure the council would be as well as a partner in this process."

The Government is still considering other flood mitigation work identified in its 10-year plan, including upgraded evacuation routes for Bundaberg North.

"Further consultation of that needs to happen ... including changes to the Tallon Bridge," Mr Hinchliffe said.


© ABC 2020

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