Beaudesert MP slams Minister Furner's Scenic Rim visit

MINISTER VISITS: Local Government Minister Mark Furner with Scenic Rim mayor Greg Christensen at Haack Bridge. Photo: Supplied
MINISTER VISITS: Local Government Minister Mark Furner with Scenic Rim mayor Greg Christensen at Haack Bridge. Photo: Supplied

BEAUDESERT MP Jon Krause has slammed Local Government Minister Mark Furner’s visit to the Scenic Rim last week as political grandstanding.

Mr Furner reignited Labor Party calls for the federal government to match the Palaszczuk government’s $110 million funding commitment for natural disaster resilience projects across Queensland.

The appeals, made while he toured the region’s flood-damaged infrastructure with Scenic Rim councillors and Queensland Reconstruction Authority chief executive Brendan Moon last Thursday, echoed those made by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk last month.

Ms Palaszczuk had accused the federal government of refusing to fund its share of Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements for Queensland.

She said the Commonwealth had approved only $29.3 million of $110 million requested by Queensland.

However, a Scenic Rim Regional Council spokesman later confirmed the federal government’s $29.3 million cap for NDRRA Category D funding would not affect repairs to flood-damaged roads and bridges, as they were covered for repair under the NDRRA’s Category B funding.

Category B covers public assets after a disaster and is provided by the state without approval from federal government.

Mr Krause said council had worked diligently throughout the NDRRA approval process to secure repair funding and suggested Mr Furner do more to help the Scenic Rim.

“I suggest to Minister Furner, that instead of grandstanding, he ensure his government quickly and efficiently give the council the go ahead so that they can get out there and fix people's roads that were damaged,” he said.

Only one project in the Scenic Rim has been publicly confirmed for NDRRA funded repairs – the replacement of Lamington’s Haack Bridge – despite council’s trial of a streamlined NDRRA funding approval process. 

While Mr Furner announced on his visit that six submissions, with a recommended value of $5.9 million, had been approved by Queensland Reconstruction Authority for the region earlier this month, no details about what repairs the submissions were related to have been released by QRA or council.

About $43 million damage was caused to the region by Cyclone Debbie in late March, with yet-to-be completed council assessments revealing a preliminary damage tally effecting 530 roads and 50 bridges.

When asked whether repair funding was being approved quickly enough by the state government, Scenic Rim mayor Greg Christensen said council was ahead of most other local authorities in terms of assessments and applications and thanked Mr Furner for his visit.

"It's good to see the commitment and collaboration to ensuring a successful outcome for the region,” he said. 

“It is important to understand that NDRRA is funded 75 per cent by the Federal Government and 25 per cent by the State.

“The QRA is working very diligently with us to ensure we achieve the best outcome.”

Cr Christensen said $2.7 million paid to the Scenic Rim Regional Council following ex-Cyclone Debbie had been used for counter disaster operations and prepayments for the initial package of works.

Mr Furner said the Palaszczuk government was committed to Queensland’s recovery after ex-tropical Cyclone Debbie and to rebuilding for resilience in future disasters.  

“The Palaszczuk Government has again proven its commitment to Queenslanders in their time of need no matter where they live across this great state,” he said.