Token rebates for bushfire water
IT was a hot topic, the debate was heated and it remains to be seen if the outcome will cool some tempers.
Councillors yesterday settled the argument raging about whether residents who used hoses and buckets to keep last October’s unprecedented bushfires at bay should receive financial compensation.
They will. Those who live in areas with reticulated water will be credited with $10, while those on rural properties will get $20.
Mayor Brad Carter admitted Rockhampton Regional Council would never be able to settle on a fair formula to satisfy the hundreds of brave residents who stood in the front line to protect their properties.
But as councillors argued about the rights and wrongs of a motion proposed by Cr Graeme Brady, he said it was important for the council to demonstrate some compassion.
“There are anomalies that can’t be resolved.”
It’s a difficult issue and there is no perfect formula to arrive at a level of compensation for property owners who were directly affected by the worst bushfires in our history,” he said, adding it was important not to neglect rural residents who did not pay water rates but who used their own water to quell flames.
Councillors were told that $10 equated to about 15 hours of continuous watering, although Cr Tony Williams described it as a token amount.
“It recognises that people went through a harrowing time and shows we understand that. It is not about meeting the costs that those residents incurred in the battle.”
The council came in for fierce criticism last week when it decided not to provide any rebate. Numerous people complained they had been promised during community meetings in November that the council would provide some recompense for their efforts and the cost of the water they used fighting fires.
So the issue was revived yesterday by Cr Brady, who said it was a matter of principle similar to the council providing cost-free dumping of green waste after a storm.
Cr Brett Svendsen turned up the heat when he suggested rural property owners who used 5000 litres to fight bushfires on their land would have to pay $300 to buy a replacement tankful.
The council will use a map of affected areas in the city to identify the premises who will get a $10 credit against their water bills. Rural property owners who believe they are eligible will have to apply in writing to get their $20.