With more than $30 million dollars of damage to Council infrastructure following tropical cyclones Owen and Nora, the North and Far North Queensland Monsoon Trough in 2019, and the North Queensland Flooding in March 2018, Hinchinbrook Shire Council is working closely with the Queensland Reconstruction Authority (QRA) to deliver the most efficient reconstruction and recovery program possible.
Mayor Ramon Jayo said in the last two years Hinchinbrook has seen four large disasters impact the community, damaging essential public infrastructure such as roads, bridges and culverts.
“Council is working hard to get the repairs completed as quickly as possible,” Mayor Jayo said.
“QRA staff have been working closely with Council to finalise funding applications and deliver disaster reconstruction and recovery work.”
“I am in close contact with QRA Chief Executive Officer Brendan Moon and both organisations are focused on delivering the best recovery in the fastest timeframe possible.”
“Repairing damage of this scale is a complex process which can take time to get right, but Council and the QRA are working together to ensure a structured and coordinated reconstruction and recovery program is delivered as smoothly and efficiently as possible.”
“In addition, Council repair teams are working closely with our recovery partners, suppliers and contractors to deliver the best possible outcomes for residents.
“Council has already completed almost $7 million of repairs across the shire including major reconstruction work on Wallaman Falls Road which suffered from several landslips.
“Despite the best coordination, financing, and management of resources, damage of this magnitude cannot simply be repaired overnight.”
Mr Moon recently told Council he appreciated the task ahead may appear daunting, but that QRA would help Hinchinbrook to access all available funding and support under the Commonwealth-Queensland funded Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA).
”It’s also important to note Hinchinbrook Shire Council is not alone in this challenge, with 62 of the State’s 77 Councils activated for DRFA assistance as a result of the 12 natural disaster events that impacted Queensland in 2018-19,” Mr Moon said.
“Our regional liaison and recovery officers will continue to work with Hinchinbrook to prioritise works, finalise funding submissions and provide technical, recovery and resilience advice that best suits the reconstruction and recovery needs of the region.
“The DRFA funds the reconstruction of damaged public assets to their pre-disaster condition to alleviate the cost of repairs to the Council,” Mr Moon said.
Mayor Jayo said that certain sections of the community are struggling to understand that the disaster recovery funding only allowed restoration of assets to pre-disaster condition and did not afford an opportunity for improvement, upgrade or betterment of the asset.
“That is the rules we have to work with although we do agree that in some circumstances, the work could be considered a waste of money due to the likelihood of damage re-occurring” Cr Jayo said.
“We are aware of this and representations have been made to QRA and the Federal Government seeking change to current methods of recovery work. Such representations have led to a new resilience funding program being released whereby some limited betterment activities can be undertaken” said Cr Jayo.
Mayor Jayo said he appreciated disruptions caused by the disaster damage in the region were frustrating, but assured residents that Council was prioritising reconstruction and recovery needs, and would continue to work with relevant recovery bodies to deliver works as soon as possible.
“I would like to thank everyone for their patience and understanding as our road crews and recovery partners work to repair this extensive damage,” he said.