Nationals tour flood-affected areas of Flynn electorate
FEDERAL Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd was extremely saddened to see the level of devastation from this year's flood on parts of his electorate.
As the cleanup began last week in flood affected areas in the southern and central regions of Flynn, Federal Member Ken O'Dowd, hosted the Leader of the Nationals and Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport the Hon Warren Truss MP, and the Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Food Security the Hon John Cobb MP, on a two day tour of affected areas.
On Friday the group visited Bundaberg to witness firsthand the damaged caused when the Burnett River burst its banks, meeting local farmers and the State Minister for Agriculture John McVeigh MP.
The group then moved onto Gayndah where they were met by North Burnett Regional Council, Mayor Don Waugh, who gave a guided tour of some of the worst affected parts of the town, as well as local orchards which have been hit hard by the floodwaters.
Mayor Waugh then took the group to Mundubberra where they visited the control and recovery centre before heading to a local dairy which has been totally inundated.
"I was extremely saddened to see the level of destruction caused by the flood waters in this region. At the time of our visit I had been lobbying the Government hard to have the North Burnett Region declared eligible for AGDRP," Mr O'Dowd said.
"I was pleased to hear the area was declared around midday on Friday which came as a big relief to locals who have been severely impacted. This is obviously not the first flood Gayndah and surrounds have seen but the scale hasn't been seen for around 70 years."
The group then moved onto Monto via Eidsvold inspecting flood affected areas along the way.
After spending the night in Monto they headed up to Thangool where an impromptu community meeting was held with Mayor Ron Carige, emergency services, landholders and farmers to discuss the impact of flooding in that area and possible ways in which the Federal Government could help in recovery efforts.
"Much has been made about the impact of this event in our larger towns Gladstone and Bundaberg, and rightly so, however this flood has had a massive impact on our agricultural industries such as cropping, dairy, citrus and beef cattle as well," Mr O'Dowd said.
"These industries are vital to the economy of Flynn and many, many livelihoods depend on them. Fences, yards and other infrastructure have been severely impacted and obviously there is a big cost associated with rebuilding."
The group then headed to the Boyne Valley where they met with graziers from in and around the area who raised issues around the poor telecommunications network and roads in the area.
"I think this tour has proven very valuable in showing Mr Truss and Mr Cobb just how much this event has impacted our region and how important it is for the Federal Government to be proactive in providing support to these areas.
"The damage has been so wide-spread throughout Flynn, which has meant that there were many areas that it was impossible to reach at the time, such as Baffle Creek and North Bundaberg and Alton Downs etc.
"As the Fitzroy River rose, this also meant that areas around Rockhampton were off the cards but I want to assure people that we certainly haven't forgotten about them.
"I have been extremely disappointed with the way in which the Government has been so slow to declare regions off the coast that have been hit hard.
"We have seen Gladstone, Bundaberg and the North Burnett confirmed but I am still pushing hard to get declarations for Rockhampton, parts of the Central Highlands, Banana and any areas of the South Burnett as they desperately need help too" said Mr O'Dowd.
"I want to applaud the efforts of our emergency services and the countless volunteers who have been, and are continuing to help in the recovery efforts in Flynn. As Parliament sits this week in Canberra I will certainly continue to press the issue of AGDRP.
"It's unfortunate that the Government's Cabinet reshuffle has come at this time as I think this has clearly had some impact on the declaration of affected areas in Central Queensland, with the Minister responsible quitting on Saturday morning" he said.