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Bundaberg East flood levee in limbo as state and federal ministers trade barbs

Thursday May 13, 2021 - 20:40 AEST
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Bundaberg resident Sid McKeown is calling for a review of the proposal. - ABC

While thousands of homes and businesses remain at risk of severe flooding in Bundaberg, a war of words has erupted between all levels of government over Queensland's "number one flood resilience project".


The proposed Bundaberg East flood levee also has residents up in arms because of its potential impact on property prices, insurance premiums and flooding.


Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey has called on the federal government to put politics aside and support the project.


"Over 600 structures would be protected, insurance premiums would be reduced," Cr Dempsey said.


"We really need to stop playing politics and get delivering the money on the ground."


The state government has committed $42.5 million, but it requires the federal government to match the funding for work to begin.


War of words erupts


Deputy Premier Steven Miles told state parliament on Wednesday the levee project was overwhelmingly supported by the community.


"It was deeply disappointing that there was zero dollars allocated in the budget for the number one flood resilience project for Queensland, the Bundaberg East flood levee. Shame!" he said.


Bundaberg Flood Protection Group president Sid McKeown said the Deputy Premier did not have any idea what the Bundaberg community wanted.


"It's quite obvious that Mr Miles is out of touch with reality when it comes to the Bundaberg people," Mr McKeown said.


"He hasn't been listening too closely to any of the community, and only listening to his party's internal words."


The group has raised concerns that the levee could see property prices plummet and insurance premiums soar for people on the Burnett River side and make flooding worse at North Bundaberg.


GST, not ATM


Federal Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud said the Queensland government needed to take responsibility for its own problems.


"The Australian government gives this thing called GST to the states ? it is billions upon billions of dollars every year," he said.


"It is actually the states' responsibility to fix their errors, whether it happened yesterday or years past.


"Instead they use the Australian taxpayer and the federal government as an ATM.


"They keep on putting the card in and wanting more money to do things, rather than manage their money properly.


"If it's something the state government is so inclined to do, there's nothing stopping them.


"They don't need the Commonwealth government to hold their hand ? they're big boys and girls now." 


The Bundaberg Flood Protection Group started a petition in April calling for a review of the project.


"That's only since Easter this year and we have quite a few thousand signatures already," Mr McKeown said.


He said the group would continue to collect signatures in the hope of convincing the state government the levee was not the right option.







- ABC

© ABC 2021

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