Flood levee in need of a helping hand
THE shovel ready $180 million South Rockhampton flood levee project is stuck in a holding pattern awaiting further financial assistance from other levels government, according to Rockhampton Regional Council.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk previously described the necessity of levee project going ahead as a "no brainer", given that it would flood proof 1500 properties, businesses, schools and the Bruce Highway from frequent flooding events.
While she was in Rockhampton last week, the Premier took the opportunity to sit down with Rockhampton Regional mayor Margaret Strelow and Chief Evan Pardon to discuss a range of issues.
Mr Pardon said when the levee project came up, the mayor declared her personal interest in the matter, leaving him to provide a brief update on the project.
"It is truly a shovel ready project that can commence immediately when the funding shortfall is addressed," Mr Pardon said.
"As I told The (Morning) Bulletin back in February, we have already secured the planning approval and we've submitted the detailed design and business case to the Queensland Reconstruction Authority along with a cost estimate.
"We are continuing to talk with both levels of government to fund the shortfall though and the reality is until there's movement on the funding, the project remains shovel ready but unable to proceed."
Given that the coronavirus pandemic came up not long after council had submitted the details to the state government, he said discussions hadn't significantly progressed at this stage.
"But, as we told the Premier, we are always ready to talk," he said.
The cost estimate provided by RRC to the Queensland Reconstruction Authority to build the project was $158.54m plus the additional cost of $20m for a pump station and money already spent by council already spent took the total project cost to about $180m.
This is triple the estimated $60m cost estimate to build the levee project two years ago.
Both the Queensland Government and Federal Governments have expressed reluctance to increase their initial $25m commitments towards the project.
Council was now waiting for a decision for remaining funding by State and Federal Governments to move to the next stage and commence tendering process to select a successful contractor to begin actual construction works on site.
In February, Mr Pardon said all detailed design and documentation works were completed by end the December 2019.
They intended to apply for grant money to cover the cost of the pump station.
He said the ongoing project management would be decided by the new council if they were successful in overcoming the funding the shortfall.
Queensland Senator Matt Canavan said the Federal Government had made a $25m commitment through the Regional Growth Fund.
"As I understand, the costs of this project have increased a number of times since those announcements and neither Government has allocated additional funding," Senator Canavan said.
Capricornia MP Michelle Landry said the Federal Government was still committed to seeing South Rockhampton Levee Bank finished and protecting business, schools and homes along on the highway.
"The South Rockhampton Levee bank is vital to Rockhampton but at the moment, the costs of project have blown out and they remain a significant concern," Ms Landry said.
"The Rockhampton Regional Council may wish to reconsider redesigning the levee bank so the costs associated with the project are reduced."
Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick said council was yet to explain how they will fund these significant additional costs.