Housing horror for flood victims?
SIXTEEN flood-affected Emerald families will see out school terms, holidays, birthdays and even Christmas in crisis accommodation waiting for their homes and lives to be rebuilt.
According to an interim flood recovery report tabled at the Central Highlands council meeting on Monday, 74 people, including eight couples and an individual are the longer-term victims of the 2010 flood.
But Gregory MP Vaughan Johnson accused the State Government Department of Communities of using the flood as an alibi to create “substandard social housing” he likened to the controversial mine workers camps that proliferate the Bowen Basin.
“They said they would rebuild Queensland better than before and this is what they deliver,” a disgusted Mr Johnson said of the four two-bedroom demountable cabins being installed at two sites in Emerald – 66 Loch St and 43 Gladstone St.
“They are treating us with utter contempt and ignoring long-established public housing guidelines in the process.
“According to floor plans I’ve seen, they measure about 8m by 5m – that’s not much bigger than some caravans.
“They are being funded under the Disaster Recovery Program but the department has written to me to say after the flood recovery requirement the projects will be transferred to the public housing rental program to provide housing for low income people in housing need.
“Emerald may be a rural location, but it is also a great wealth generator for Queensland and it is shameful to see the Bligh government treating it so shoddily, in such a mean and tricky way.
“We have been fighting to get the private camp accommodation providers to lift the standard of their developments, and meanwhile the government is building social housing like this.
“There is barely a space for a couch or a television. If a resident needs to ask a visitor inside, where do they seat them?
“Minister for Communities and Housing Karen Struthers should be thoroughly ashamed of herself.”
Ms Struthers hit back late yesterday, saying the demountables were purchased from Tamworth for disaster accommodation and any insinuation they were for another purpose was “misleading”.
“If not used for disaster accommodation, these homes will be available to people in need and I make no apology for that,” she said.
“They were to be used for social rental accommodation where needed and where appropriate.
“If they are used for social housing they will be reconfigured and rented as one-bedroom dwellings.”
Ms Struthers said disaster recovery accommodation could last for a few years in some locations throughout Queensland where 300 beds of temporary accommodation have been rolled out in response to the summer of natural disasters.
Council’s flood recovery co-ordinator Lyle Harmon said a sub-committee had been working with Emerald real estate agents, non-government services and others to determine the housing demand for displaced flood victims.
“The outcome was that the amount of housing the department had available to meet demand,” he said.
“The sub-group will keep the matter under review.
“I can’t comment on the long-term use of what has been provided, but it has been great for the community to have access to accommodation in the short term.”