Saturday, February 19, 2011

Public Slanging Match Erupts Over Rockhampton Airport Flood Repairs Funding

Tensions have recently arisen between the Mayor of the Rockhampton Regional Council, Brad Carter, and the Federal Member for Capricornia, Kirsten Livermore, after the mayor aired his concerns that Prime Minister Julia Gillard could abandon the Rockhampton region, leaving the council to foot the damage bill for last month’s flood.

Cr Carter said his and the community’s concern was “very genuine” in relation to recent comments by Prime Minister Julia Gillard. He has even written to the Prime Minister, seeking an assurance, and putting pressure on her to provide an assurance that crucial funding will be made available to cover council costs associated with last month's flood – like those associated with the airport – that may not be covered under National Disaster Recovery and Relief Arrangements.

The Council specifically wants the funding to cover the repairs to the Rockhampton Airport and other revenue-earning business such as water and sewerage; the day labour costs associated with repairs to our road infrastructure; and the costs associated with the clean-up, removal of flood-damaged material and operations of landfills for this purpose.

The Prime Minister has claimed that she was misrepresented by certain reports that came out in Southern media. She said that the proper process her government would follow was to work with the Queensland Government and the state’s recovery authority, which would determine which projects would be funded outside arrangements.

Meanwhile, the man leading Queensland’s reconstruction effort, Major General Mick Slater says Rockhampton Airport is a vital piece of regional infrastructure, “especially given its transport, tourism and defence importance”. Major General Slater, who will visit Rockhampton in coming weeks, said he was yet to see a formal request for assistance in relation to the airport or any other proposed work in Rockhampton.

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