‘We need to approach this rationally, and we need to get this right.’
That’s the consistent message from Federal Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry, who says she won’t commit money to the project until community uncertainty and cost concerns are addressed.
‘I will not bow to Labor pressure – this is about the will of the people and making sure we don’t make the same mistakes of the past allowing so much construction on a flood plain in the first place.
“I thank Rockhampton Regional Council for taking the time to show me the location of the levee – it helps to see first-hand where the negatively affected properties sit and to discuss the design in relation to the landscape.
‘However there are a still some considerations that need to be addressed before we pursue funding; I think it is irresponsible to progress without this certainty and the submission needs to be more professional than the ‘poor me’ letter from Premier Palascuzk,’ Ms Landry said.
The federal member, who has been criticised by media for delaying the project, has said that both Council and the State Government need to respect the concerns of the people and not expect buckets of money to flow due to bad decisions of the past.
Ms Landry has requested that Council provide:
A project plan or proposal that shows:
Council has communicated with and has agreement from negatively impacted landholders including any land acquisition.
Financial and professional responsibility for the project. Council has said that engineers and engineering consultants will not guarantee the work and that there is always going to be an element of risk. Therefore, Council needs to show that it is willing to be fully accountable for any adverse impacts. Ms Landry wants to see the project plan that includes contingencies for budget changes arising from unforeseen circumstances.
An explanation as to why Council has decided not to include a benefitted rate from their contribution, fromratepayers whose property values will increase from the levee. Infrastructure upgrades and placemaking serve the greater good but in this instance there is also a direct financial gain to landholders. Many people have objected to covering the full cost without some contribution from benefitting landholders.
Clarification of the local government contribution. Council has committed ‘up to $10 Million’ that will be included in the general budget. The full $10 million is required assuming no cost blowouts or increases since 2014. Council will need to clarify what exactly they are contributing and how any shortfalls will be met.
Ms Landry has also directed her staff to develop plans for an independent survey.
‘To date there have been three separate surveys, plus doorknocking of some homes, however there has been no consistency or transparency with these,’ Ms Landry said.
‘The professionals have told us that we need around 3600 responses from a uniform data set to establish a clear pattern of preference that takes into account margin of error.
‘Most of these surveys were undertaken prior to Council presenting the feasibility study and deciding against a beneficial rate.
‘I am proposing that we undertake a phone survey of a broad cross section of the community, using a uniform set of questions that ask:
Under what conditions people support the South Rockhampton Flood Levee, if at all
Whether or not their concerns have been addressed
Whether or not there is support for the Airport Levee
Who they think should pay for the levee and what they believe is acceptable for the rest of the community to contribute through rates.
‘I also think it is irresponsible to burden rate and tax payerswith the cost of a survey, so I am in the process of coordinating a team of people to undertake the phone canvas. Prior to undertaking this canvas, we will provide fact sheets to the community via media and social media answering the key concerns that have been raised.
‘Calculations indicate that if we get 30 people working 4 hours each, we should be able to get to the figure that is professionally acceptable.
‘Council have said they believe they have done enough consultation, so we will need to look elsewhere for support on this.