Authority covering a lot of ground

Premier Anna Bligh, Maj Gen Slater and Prince William visit the disaster-struck areas of Queensland.
Premier Anna Bligh, Maj Gen Slater and Prince William visit the disaster-struck areas of Queensland.

QUEENSLAND’S Reconstruction Authority does not sit in Brisbane making grandiose plans and big decisions about spending taxpayer’s money without consulting communities.

We are speaking with communities through their city and regional councils and accept that as the elected representatives they know best the community’s needs.

It is important to make sure your council is clearly aware of your views.

Most councils have been quick to point out the infrastructure damage their areas have sustained and its impact on the local economy and I am confident that in a reasonable amount of time together we will effectively rebuild what has been lost and our economy will be rejuvenated.

However, of greater importance at present is the attention we pay to helping individuals and families rebuild their damaged homes and I hear less from councils on this subject. I think everyone appreciates how important this is but they are daunted by the difficulty of the task we face in some areas.

While the responsibility for restoration of residential property lies with the property owner there is a role for the Queensland Reconstruction Authority to assist. We are doing this on a large scale, working with councils to expedite approvals for new housing opportunities but as we traverse Queensland I hear many stories of personal hardship as families try to rebuild their damaged homes.

I have been impressed by the capacity, compassion and determination of many government and non-government agency staff as they have found housing solutions for thousands of people across Queensland.

They have managed a problem on a scale not seen before in Australia and have done so very well. The Department of Communities is often critiqued for its handling of people, but I have seen its members doing outstanding work as they have played a central role in looking after the housing needs of those most affected by floods and cyclones. Many people I speak to have spoken warmly of the Department’s case officers.

Insurance companies also have a major role to play in the rebuilding of our homes and towns. Unfortunately, I generally hear only negative stories about insurance companies as home and small business owners seem to negotiate numerous obstacles, suffer unexplained delays and find their claims rejected without reasonable explanations.

Very occasionally I do hear of good timely responses.

One or two company names appear to pop up far more often than the rest and I think the community could benefit from a knowledge of which companies have responded most positively to the needs of Queenslanders in recent months.

Finally, I visited a number of communities with HRH Prince William over last weekend and I know that many people were disappointed they did not get the opportunity to speak directly with HRH, but I can assure you that he was touched by the plight of all Queenslanders who endured the cyclones and flooding in recent months.

His compassion and empathy was very clear and he too would have like the opportunity to spend more time in each location; however, he now understands what we have always known and that is that Queensland is a big state and you can’t stand in one place too long.

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