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South Rockhampton Flood Levee faces another funding challenge as council flags $105 million shortfall

By Jasmine Hines and Jemima Burt, Wednesday October 14, 2020 - 11:34 EDT

It has been under discussion for nearly three decades and was thought to have all the funding it needed in 2018, but a project designed to prevent 1,500 Rockhampton properties from flooding has hit another hurdle.

, properties around Depot Hill and Allenstown in South Rockhampton were inundated with floodwaters, costing the city $67 million over four years.

A solution in the South Rockhampton Flood Levee, an embankment with floodgates and valves that would redirect water and prevent that happening again, has been on the table for years.

The need for the levee was first identified by Council back in 1992.

In 2018, Rockhampton Regional Council announced , but in the wake of COVID-19 it is no longer confident the project can be funded until a $105 million shortfall is addressed.

Deputy Mayor Neil Fisher said the $25 million in funding from both the State and Federal governments should be redirected in the short term.

"We still believe that is one of our highest priority projects, but if we could use that money in the short term for significant economic gain to our community, I think that's in the best interests of the whole Rockhampton region," he said.

"We have opportunities that we could use that money that's pigeonholed at the moment to have an immediate benefit to our community, and that's what we've done."

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Cr Fisher said the decision to request the redirection of the funding was unanimous among councillors.

He said the council remains committed to building the levee.

"To those residents there that are concerned, we're concerned as well," he said.

"That's why we're not going to give up on this project, but at the same time we actually need to grow our economy in our town.

"We need to be able to investigate the costings, look at the costings … sit down at the table and start to discuss the future of the levee."

Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry said she had been in contact with the Deputy Prime Minister about redirecting funding.

She said there were a number of commercial-in-confidence projects for the Rockhampton airport under discussion at the moment which the redirected funding could be used for.

But she said she would still like to see the levee project constructed eventually.

"What I would like to see is, after the state election, for the three levels of government to sit down and discuss how we can get the costings of that down because at this stage … it is quite difficult to get the funding for it," Ms Landry said.

Labor commits funds to levee next door

Cr Fisher says it is frustrating that Queensland Labor has committed to , which faces similar challenges during flood seasons.

"There's quite a bit of frustration when we heard at the council table today," he said.

"We have been championing the benefits of having a flood levee in Rockhampton. To actually have an offer twice as much as what Rockhampton received is very, very disappointing."

State MP Barry O'Rourke said he also supported the levee going ahead.

"I'm happy to see investment into Rockhampton. I'd have to sit down and work through that after the state election," Mr O'Rourke said.


© ABC 2020

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