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Time to get real with rebuilding

QUEENSLANDERS have shown they are prepared to help mates in need, but I sense there are some who are tempted to see the work of reconstruction as an opportunity to make additional profits or benefit at the expense of others.

I have read newspaper articles already talking about 10% to 15% price increases for materials and find this to be disconcerting as I have been advised by a number of authoritative sources that there should not be significant shortages of construction material, equipment and labour that will be needed as councils and communities rebuild in the months ahead.

The Queensland Reconstruction Authority will be looking for the best value for money as we rebuild the state’s infrastructure.

After all, much of the work will be funded by taxpayers, not just from Queensland, but from all over Australia.

The taxpayers are entitled to know they are getting the best value for their contribution.

Having said that, I expect councils to deal with the authority with realistic expectations.

We are not here to provide funding from the Federal or State governments for community infrastructure that they should have had in place pre-flood or pre-cyclone.

However on behalf of councils, we are attempting to source support and financial assistance from corporate and international donors to meet some of the important work that falls outside of the government funding provisions.

The commercial sector must also be realistic in setting their profit margins. This is not an opportunity to take additional profits from a community in hardship.

By all means charge a fair price – but not an inflated price because it can be explained away easily within the context of the circumstances of the floods or cyclones.

A debate has continued throughout the week on the issue of returning the army to work on private property throughout disaster-affected areas long after the last signs of any emergency have passed.

I must make it clear that I have no authority to direct such actions to occur.

However, in regard to the recent requests that have been debated in the public forum I believe that it would be inappropriate to task the army with the outstanding work, particularly where that work is on private property.

It is true that soldiers did work on private property in some areas during the period of the emergency but that is not justification to expect the army to be used as free labour gangs long after the emergency has passed.

Some people believe that it is unfair because others received assistance and these people now complaining did not.

I have looked at the additional work that people have called for the army to undertake and my professional advice is that it should not be completed by the army at this time.

On a more positive note, it is heartening to see donations and assistance reaching the areas where they make a tangible difference.

Nissan has donated up to 200 cars for flood and cyclone impacted groups.

On Monday the first of these was handed over in Toowoomba by local Nissan dealer John Armstrong to that city’s Kath Dixon Centre.

Reconstruction Minister, Premier Anna Bligh, was on hand.

Thanks to Nissan for this great help and I expect we will see many more community groups benefit from Nissan’s generosity in coming months.It is not difficult for corporations to follow the Nissan example and help by making a tangible difference.

It’s simple - just go to www.qldreconstruction.org.au/joining-forces and list your details or link up with a group in need.


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