Mayor says Rockhampton flood levee is back on track
IT WAS a delighted mayor who this afternoon says the South Rockhampton Levee Bank is back on track.
The levee appeared to be in jeopardy when a massive cost blowout was revealed last week showing an additional $50million could be needed to complete the project.
But mayor, Margaret Strelow and Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke met with State Development Minister Cameron Dick this afternoon and have agreed on the next steps to progress increased funding consideration.
Mr Dick said the meeting was a vital step forward for an important project.
"Barry O'Rourke, the mayor and I have agreed on the need to formally review the funding requirements with the Commonwealth Government,” he said.
"The Federal Government is a joint funder of this project, alongside the council and the state, and would be liable to meet the increase in costs.”
Mr Dick has written to Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, requesting that he "join with the state to undertake an independent assessment of the revised costs and benefits, and with viability and how we are to proceed”.
"It is important that we identify the cause of the cost increases and assess their impact on this project before we can make any joint decision about funding the increased costs,” he said.
"The mayor has indicated her wish to get this resolved quickly, so I am asking the Deputy Prime Minister to give this a high priority.”
Mr O'Rourke earlier this week wrote a Letter to the Editor saying he agreed with community concerns over the "ever-escalating cost”.
"The state budget was only handed down in June and yet here we are just over a month later being asked to pull this money out of thin air,” he said.
This afternoon he told The Morning Bulletin he welcomed the development.
"No one has fought harder than me to ensure Rockhampton gets its fair share, and I'll keep fighting to make sure that we get the projects that we need,” he said.
"It was a very positive meeting and I think it's great to have state, federal and local governments working together to find a way forward.”
Mr O'Rourke said he supported the levee bank in principle and his only concerns were around cost.
"We just don't know what it is,” he said.
Cr Strelow said she was delighted with the meeting and thanked Mr O'Rourke for his role to get everyone around the table together.
"It's been a long haul to get to this point so getting this additional level of collaboration and support is very satisfying, and we are very grateful,” she said.
"We have appreciated all along the State Government's commitment and we've equally appreciated the commitment from the Federal Government.
"I recognise the project will take all three of us to get it to fruition and I'm very heartened by the minister's attitude to find a pathway through.”