A ‘valuable’ visit was how Central Highlands’ Mayor Cr Kerry Hayes described a whistle-stop tour of Emerald by Queensland’s Deputy Premier Jackie Trad, Assistant Minister for Transport Glenn Butcher and other senior government representatives today.
The Deputy Premier put on her transport, infrastructure and planning portfolio hat to visit Works for Queensland-funded projects in the Emerald Botanic Gardens and NDRRA-funded flood mitigation work sites in the Nogoa River.
Mayor Hayes said he was ‘grateful that the ministers made the time to visit’.
‘These on-ground inspections are really valuable for us and the ministers and their senior staff,’ he said.
‘It’s all very well to sign-off on a funding agreement from a desk in Brisbane, but there’s nothing like actually getting on to a site and talking to the people behind the projects.
‘Both the Deputy Premier and Minister Butcher expressed genuine interest in the region and were confidently briefed by the councillors as to how the projects benefit the local community.
‘Central Highlands has $2.6 million for 27 cultural and recreational projects under the Works for Queensland funding, which supports regional councils to undertake job-creating maintenance and minor infrastructure projects—one of which is some improvement work on the east side of our regionally significant botanic gardens,’ the mayor explained.
‘I think that the more the ministers actually get to see how beneficial these projects are to the community, the more likely the government will be to extend the program in coming years.’
Representatives from the Queensland Reconstruction Authority accompanied the Deputy Premier to assess progress on the region’s Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA)-funded work and discuss the current disaster recovery coordination effort.
‘It’s important that the government understands the needs of the inland councils following the TC Debbie disaster,’ the mayor said.
‘We were able to provide a comprehensive update on the situation in the east of our region post flood.
‘I was able to give assurance that we’d flown over the area; visited property owners to conduct welfare checks; and appointed Glenn Bell as the disaster recovery coordinator.
The timing of the visit also coincided well with council’s announcement this week not to proceed with levees for Emerald.
‘We were able to discuss and demonstrate the flood mitigation works council has completed, what it intends to do and what funding we will be seeking—all while actually standing next to the Nogoa River and looking at the Vince Lester bridge. It was certainly easy to visualise the Capricorn Highway as a major evacuation route given a flood situation,’ the mayor said.