Weekly Speak CEO Column
Epic floods bring out the best of councils
Just when you think you have seen it all, record Townsville floods occur with 2 metres of water falling over the Paluma Dam and Ross River Dam catchments.
That is not to forget record floods in north- west Queensland and major flooding along major stretches of the north Queensland coast all the way to the Douglas Shire.
There is not a council in that part of the state that is not battling the elements. The estimates of damage in Townsville have topped $150 million and there is an emerging crisis regarding the huge losses of cattle from this truly momentous natural disaster.
As a veteran of more than 20 years of disaster management in this State, I never cease to be amazed by the incredible job mayors, local disaster management groups and council staff do to meet these epic challenges. They regularly do the impossible in the most hazardous conditions, working unbelievable hours.
The cream always rises to the top and over the past 10 days our members have given new meaning to our media campaign slogan, 'Proud to be Your Council'. They are absolute stars and their communities acknowledge that fact.
Behind the scenes, the LGAQ has been doing its bit to support our members in the danger zone. In these situations, I attend the Queensland Disaster Management Sub Committee of Cabinet as one of the three non-state government representatives alongside the Bureau of Meteorology and the Australian Defence Force.
My role and that of the LGAQ support team headed by Glen Beckett at the Kedron State Disaster Co-ordination Centre is to keep the wheels moving and remove any obstacles to speedy action on the ground. It works. I have been doing that for 10 days straight and that is only possible with advocacy general manager Sarah Buckler taking over running the LGAQ.
At today’s LGAQ Policy Executive Meeting, members voted to donate $20,000 to four charities supporting the North Queensland Flood appeal. Our heart goes out to all those folks suffering across the vast swathes of our north.
The LGAQ also conducted its annual Assembly of the State’s Regional Organisation of Councils this week. It was a top notch gathering, attracting the likes of Federal Local Government Minister and deputy Nationals leader Bridget McKenzie, Opposition local government spokesman Stephen Jones, State Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe and Australian Local Government Association President David O’Loughlin.
The highlight was a frank assessment by Senator McKenzie and Mr Jones of the likelihood of an incoming government - Coalition or Labor - supporting our bid for a restoration of financial assistance grants to the equivalent of 1 percent of total Commonwealth taxation. Suffice to say that we need to redouble our efforts to convince Canberra of the community’s need for this funding.
In so many ways, the hard work created by these historic floods is only beginning for many of our member councils. Rest assured the LGAQ will support councils and communities along the long road to recovery.
Local Government Association of Queensland
LG House, 25 Evelyn Street, Newstead Qld 4006
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