Rockhampton MP Robert Schwarten.
Rockhampton MP Robert Schwarten. File

Debate over flood-proofing

FORMER mayor Lea Taylor has challenged Member for Rockhampton Robert Schwarten to a public debate as the blame game about a failed previous effort to flood-proof the city heats up.

Mr Taylor, who was mayor of Rockhampton City from 1991 to 1997, said the time had come to end the tit-for-tat exchanges through The Bulletin's Letters to the Editor.

On Thursday, Mr Schwarten readily accepted the challenge.

The pair are arguing over what funding was made available, and by whom, to implement the findings of a study to flood-proof the city in the wake of the 1991 floods.

Mr Taylor has repeatedly rejected Mr Schwarten's assertion his council refused to provide its share of the funding following a 1992 study.

The Rockhampton MP initially said the reason nothing had been done was because Mr Taylor lacked the “financial acumen” to see that local councils were getting a good deal at the time with the Federal and State Government prepared to put in 80% of the funds.

But Mr Taylor said his council would have paid its share without delay.

He said the state and federal money was not forthcoming and there was no way council could have gone it alone.

The State Government had done some work since the 1991 floods, but this had been little more than a “band-aid” solution.

Mr Schwarten said he would be happy to debate Mr Taylor.

“I'd be happy to do it,” Mr Schwarten said, shortly before boarding a plane for Brisbane.

“All I want to see is the evidence from him of when the council took the decision to pay (its share).

“That should be very easily verified.”

He said this was the only point of argument he would debate.

“I don't intend dignifying some of his other claims,” Mr Schwarten said.



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