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$220m package to rebuild infrastructure Debbie barely touched

Questions have been asked over the projects that have been included in the Category D application. It's understood Midge Point only had a passing mention and Lambert's Beach wasn't included.
Questions have been asked over the projects that have been included in the Category D application. It's understood Midge Point only had a passing mention and Lambert's Beach wasn't included. Michael Kennedy, chief operator

PROJECTS and infrastructure barely touched by Cyclone Debbie were put forward by the Palaszczuk government in their appeal for $110million in Category D critical disaster relief funding from the federal government, with the goal to make them more resilient in the future.

The revelation, from member for Dawson George Christensen, shows more tensions around disaster funding after the bitter dust-up between Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull over Category C funding in the days after the freak weather event played havoc in the region two months ago.

Mr Christensen said there were requests to upgrade infrastructure that wasn't damaged in the cyclone, while other areas, such as Lambert's Beach, didn't get a mention.

"They asked for $40million for the Whitsunday Coast Airport when aircraft were landing at the airport two days after Cyclone Debbie," he said. "The airport had not been seriously impacted.

"There was a request for $6.3million for the Airlie Beach foreshore -- where there was no serious damage. Most concerning was a request for $10million for the Mackay Bluewater Trail and Queens Park redevelopment, which suffered minor damage at the most."

Member for Mirani, Labor's Jim Pearce, said Mr Christensen was playing politics as the state government was following the recommendations of local councils - and the feds should have supported it as it was the best thing to help the region advance.

But there is doubt some of the applications could ever have qualified. Mr Christensen said as signatories of the disaster relief package proposal, the state government should have known what was allowed under Category D.

On Tuesday, two officials were sent from Canberra to sit with state officials in Brisbane to comb through the proposed $220 million 50-50 federal-state funded "exceptional" circumstances assistance package.

The South Rockhampton Flood Levee, despite being a damage-mitigation project that could save millions of dollars next time the Fitzroy River floods, is ineligible for funding under Category D because it is a new infrastructure project.

And it's improving Queensland that has Premier Palaszczuk happy to throw in her half of $220million as she said the projects nominated by local councils would create jobs and boost the local economies that were hit by Cyclone Debbie and make the regions more resilient in the future.

These Mackay projects were filed under the "betterment" fund in Category D where the infrastructure should be rebuilt to be more resilient.

The betterment component was introduced in 2007 and has been a point of contention between state and federal government since.

Mackay Regional Council's Gerard Carlyon confirmed it had applied for $10million under Category D betterment fund for the Bluewater Trail and Queens Park masterplan, as well as other projects, but wouldn't say which ones.

The Bluewater Trail boardwalk near Caneland Central was "irreparably damaged", he said, and Queens Park had vegetation damage.

The council defended the major projects, which the state also classed as 'iconic', and said they would include both rectifications works from damage received as a part of Cyclone Debbie as well as new works to improve the resilience of those areas for future events.

Mr Christensen acknowledged all the projects were worthwhile but should not be funded through disaster relief funding, unlike coastal repair work needed at Midge Point and Lambert's Beach.

Queensland Reconstruction Authority confirmed both Midge Point and Lambert's Beach could be funded through the $15 million Category D environment package.

The Daily Mercury was unable to obtain the full list of projects in the Category D application.

Topics:  cyclone debbie disaster relief mackay mackay news weather


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