Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has today written to Prime Minister expressing disappointment at his Government’s failure to match Queensland Government’s commitment for communities devastated by severe Tropical Cyclone Debbie.
“Today marks four months since Tropical Cyclone Debbie crossed the Queensland coast,” the Premier said.
“While my Government continues to provide support in the recovery phase for communities devastated by the Cyclone and associated flooding.
“Today I have written to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to express my disappointment that the Federal Government’s failure to match my government’s commitment to fund 50 percent of the $220 million Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements Category D funding package.
“My Government knows how important it is to work with Queenslanders to get affected communities back up and running and to repair important infrastructure.
“I’ve confirmed the Queensland Government’s commitment to provide $110 million for recovery and reconstruction projects for affected communities. It’s in our 2017-18 Budget papers and I again reiterated this commitment during last week’s Parliamentary Estimates Committee Hearing.
“My Government and local councils are working together. We’re doing our fair share. The Turnbull Government should do the same.”
Recovery grants and loans
The Premier said in the four months since Severe Tropical Cyclone Debbie, Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority (QRIDA) has approved 1,140 recovery grants and loans worth $8.4 million for primary producers, small businesses and not-for-profit organisations in disaster affected areas across Queensland.
This includes $7.05 million in Category C grants.
A total of 794 primary producers have received $5.27 million, with $2.61 million going to sugar cane producers, $1.39 million to beef cattle producers and the remainder to producers in the dairy, banana and grains sectors.
QRIDA administers this financial assistance under the joint Commonwealth-Queensland funded Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA)
“Queensland’s $23 billion tourism industry is vital to our economy, so it’s been important to ensure key tourist areas impacted by Tropical Cyclone Debbie, like the Whitsundays, back up and running.
“Four months on, these areas are moving from recovery mode and beginning to flourish again.
“A $10 million recovery package led by the Queensland and Australian Governments, and boosted by a $1 million marketing push from iconic tourism brands, has built on the momentum kick started by determined local operators.
“It will take some time to fully recover, but with these campaigns we are sending a very clear message that tourism hotspots like the Whitsundays are back open for business.”
Skills and Training
“Our $10 million Skilling Queenslanders for Work recovery fund has provided an opportunity for locals with training and skills while repairing cyclone damage,” the Premier said.
“Almost $7 million has been approved to assist 359 people to attain new skills as part of the recovery effort under the Skilling Queenslanders for Work fund.”
The Premier said the Office of Small Business is now finalising the assessment of 98 applications for dedicated $10,000 grants, announced under the government’s $4 million recovery package for cyclone-hit areas.
Operation Queensland Recovery: State Recovery Plan 2017-19 committed $1.5 million for small business grants, $2 million for an ongoing Go Local campaign, and $550,000 for dedicated workshops and mentoring services for impacted small businesses.
“The recovery package offers $10,000 grants to eligible businesses to engage business consultants and mentors to assist with business recovery following Cyclone Debbie,” the Premier said.
“The 98 grant applications received before the first round closed at the end of June, are currently being assessed and business owners will be notified in the very near future.”
Eligible landholders affected by Cyclone Debbie have had their rent deferred until 31 October 2017 – giving them four months breathing room.
“We’ve also supported those who suffered from the worst effects of the disaster with $21.5 million in Immediate Hardship Assistance Grants to more than 53,600 recipients, $5.6 million in Essential Services Grants and $3.2 million in Essential Household Content Grants.
“In all, we have provided $31.8 million in assistance grants helping more than 119,000 people.”
Electricity transmission towers damaged during Tropical Cyclone Debbie are being replaced as part of a $7.8 million investment over the coming months.
“The replacement of towers in the Lotus Creek and Clarke Creek areas to the north of Rockhampton will create 17 jobs and will ensure Powerlink’s transmission network continues to operate safely and reliably heading into the summer months,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
Severe flooding also caused extensive damage to 19 transmission towers on Powerlink’s Nebo to Broadsound electricity transmission line, located approximately 100 kilometres south west of Mackay. The transmission line is a key part of Powerlink’s 275kV network that supplies bulk electricity to Central and North Queensland.
“Port of Hay Point, south of Mackay, is now fully operational following the impact of the cyclone which saw supply from the mines cut, depth reduction at the ship berths and many ships at anchor waiting to load coal (more than 40 ships),” the Premier said.
“Maritime Safety Queensland played a key role in monitoring ships at anchor and ensured ships’ crews had enough food and water.”
Temporary repairs have also been made to vessel traffic services (VTS) and marine distress radio communications in the Whitsunday Islands to provide safety communications. The Government is also working cooperatively with local volunteer marine rescue organisations to restore marine communications.
- 37 of the 90 aids to navigation that were damaged or destroyed as a result of TC Debbie have now been fully restored.
- 80 of the 97 vessels stranded or wrecked from TC Debbie have been removed by vessel owners or insurers.
The MSQ Airlie Beach office was also damaged and MSQ continues to provide a customer service presence from the Abel Point Marina
Environment and National Parks
Only seven of the 223 Queensland parks and forests damaged by TC Debbie across Queensland remain closed and a further seven are partially open while works continue.
The partially open parks and forests include Brampton Islands National Park, Cathu State Forest, Conway National Park, Great Sandy National Park – Cooloola Recreation Area, Lamington National Park, Lindeman Islands National Park and Springbrook National Park.
In the Great Barrier Reef region, tourism operators are now using some of the less affected areas and a limited number of viable diving and snorkelling locations such as Butterfly Bay on Hook Island.
The Palaszczuk Government has announced funding of $3.9 million over two years in Whitsunday Islands National Park, to create new and alternative on-island visitor opportunities for marine tourism operators including a multi-day walking track, while fringing reefs recover.
In addition, 40 new public moorings will begin to be installed in August 2017 as part of the $2.375 million expanded reef protection program, funded through the Significant Regional Infrastructure Projects Program, to further protect coral reefs in the area.
Cyclone Debbie and associated flooding inflicted significant damage to a number of Turf Club buildings and racing infrastructure.
The Government has provided funds to repair damage to Turf Clubs at Bowen ($10,000), Mackay ($250,000), Beaudesert ($70,000), Bundaberg ($10,000), Gladstone ($10,000) and Calliope ($5000) received funds, along with Capalaba Greyhounds ($15,000) and Rockhampton Jockey and Greyhounds ($408,000).
The money paid to these clubs was part of an overall $778,000 support package for nine Queensland race clubs left with hefty repair bills as a result of Cyclone Debbie.
Works were identified at 388 schools as a result of ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie and the subsequent weather events, with repairs now complete at 342 schools. The outstanding building and infrastructure repairs are expected to be completed by 30 September this year.
Hospitals and Health Services are continuing to repair infrastructure as a program of rectification works continues to be rolled out.
All patient appointments and elective surgery cancelled as a direct result of Cyclone Debbie have now occurred.
Early intervention support will be provided for the next 18 months to support those experiencing mental health illnesses during the recovery phase.
Housing and Public Works
Housing and Public Works staff completed over 1,800 damage inspections for Government assets, with approximately 700 assessed as damaged. Repairs are now fully complete on approximately 89% of damaged buildings, with the most significant damage prioritised.
Of the repair work managed by the department, approximately 30% has been financially completed
As at 24 July, DHPW had received requests from the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services for Structural Assistance Grant assessments on 413 properties. 399 of these assessments have been completed to date.
“Ex-Severe Tropical Cyclone Debbie caused significant landslips and road damage across 29 local government areas, particularly in the Mackay/Whitsunday and South Coast Districts,” the Premier said.
“A budget of $450 million has been allowed for repairs to the state-controlled road network and the priority has been to complete emergent works to reopen roads to a safe and trafficable condition, undertake road damage assessments and confirm eligibility of works.”
The Premier said all roads have now either reopened or detours have been provided and further structural and geotechnical investigations have been required at some sites of significant damage.
These investigations are being used to determine the full extent of damage and best value-for-money solutions for long-term repairs.
“In some cases it will not be a quick fix, but we are working hard to expedite repairs to minimise impacts on the community.”
- Eton Range sustained significant damage during Tropical Cyclone Debbie, including multiple landslips within the existing project site of the $189 million Eton Range Realignment Project.
- Due to the damage, Eton Range is under single lane operation, with width restrictions for over-size vehicles while repair works are undertaken. We are working as quickly as possible to reinstate the two-way operation.
- Two-way operation is expected to be reinstated in late July 2017
- Following a successful trial last month, vehicles 35m long are now able to travel unloaded across the range. Previously only vehicles 30m or less were permitted.
- The Eton Range Realignment Project started in April 2016 and was due to be completed in late 2018, weather permitting.
- Due to impacts from Cyclone Debbie and other challenges encountered on site, the overall project is expected to be completed in June 2019.
Marlborough-Sarina Road including Sarina Range
- Removal of debris from below the main slips has been undertaken to allow access for further survey and geotechnical review.
- Further slope risk assessments and field mapping on the major slips have also been completed.
- Detailed geotechnical investigations and design for major landslips are being undertaken as a matter of priority, to determine long-term solutions.
- A detour route was established along Koumala–Bolingbroke Road to provide access for local residents, school students, businesses and industry until the Sarina Range can be reopened.
- Repairs and rehabilitation works have been completed on the nine bridges that were damaged and all are open to traffic.
- We have worked closely with Education Queensland to relocate some of the Swayneville State School students to a temporary school at Colston Park, avoiding an 80-minute one-way trip to school.
Gold Coast–Springbrook Road
- The volume and intensity of the rainfall caused significant damage to slope stability, with 113 recorded sites of landslips and debris.
- Crews have been on site undertaking cleaning and clearing works since April 1.
- We’re fast-tracking repair solutions for about 20 critical sites, with designs expected to be complete in September.
- The road closure in place east of Springbrook is likely to be long term due to slope instability and the number of landslips.
- Full assessment of the damage and the development of designs to restore the road and stabilise the slopes will be ongoing.
- An alternate route is in place west of Springbrook via Pine Creek Road in Numinbah Valley.
- South Coast’s District Director Andrew Wheeler attended the Springbrook Mountain Community Association meeting on 19 July 2017 to update the community on the status of progress and to provide reconstruction timeframes.
- Works on Pine Creek Road, to reinstate two traffic lanes and repair embankment damage, are on track and are expected to be completed by mid-August 2017.
John Muntz Bridge
- The John Muntz Causeway in Coomera reopened to two lanes on June 30.
- Ongoing works on the site will require intermittent single lane closures during business hours only.
- Construction will continue on site until August.
Lamington National Park Road
- Damage from the extreme weather was extensive, with more than 70 landslips, above and below the road.
- 20 of these landslips sites are considered critical.
- Crews restored access to the road in late April.
- Work on three critical sites on Lamington National Park Road will begin soon.
- The restoration work on Lamington National Park Road will include piling into the rock below the road and constructing retaining walls.
- The road will be closed from 6pm to 6am, Monday to Friday for about three months until these three critical sites are restored.
- While work on the three most urgent sites is underway, design will continue on the additional sites.
- Later this year, work will start on the additional sites in order of priority.
- While works are underway, a six-tonne load limit is in place for 15km from Sarabah towards the mountain summit to ensure no damage to the road is caused by larger and heavier vehicles.
- Main debris clearing works have been completed.
- Open to local traffic while a permanent solution for batter repairs is determined.
- Work will also include pavement pothole repairs and drainage rectification works.
Tomewin Mountain Road
- A section of Tomewin Mountain Road dropped 0.5 metres during STC Debbie.
- Tenders called for major stabilisation works, which are due to begin mid-August to repair landslip.
- Majority of works will be undertaken at night with a full road closure from 7pm to 5am, Monday to Friday.