Houses surrounded by floodwaters at Depot Hill in Rockhampton April 6, 2017 as floodwaters resulting from ex-cyclone Debbie inundate parts of Rockhampton with the Fitzroy River hitting 8.9ms.
Houses surrounded by floodwaters at Depot Hill in Rockhampton April 6, 2017 as floodwaters resulting from ex-cyclone Debbie inundate parts of Rockhampton with the Fitzroy River hitting 8.9ms. DAN PELED

Flood levee is still a no-brainer, Barry

I AM confused about where Barry O'Rourke stands on the South Rockhampton levee.

The Rockhampton MP was voted in to champion this region, to make considered decisions that will benefit this community over the long term. He wasn't put in to pander to the mob to save "taxpayer dollars”.

I previously assumed he supported the levee proposal for its considerable benefits (protecting 1500 properties and the Bruce Highway) but in his letter to the editor he adopts a negative tone based on a personal survey.

"I spend a lot of time door-knocking and attending community events and for every person I speak to that is in favour of the levee, there are probably another half a dozen who are opposed to it. If we were to hold a public vote on whether to go ahead with this levee, I strongly doubt it would achieve majority support,” he said.

How long has the Rocky MP held his concern that more than 80 per cent of the region are opposed to the levee?

In 2017 the Queensland Premier and the Federal Opposition both called the project a "no-brainer”.

So when did this go from being a "no-brainer” to a project with little support?

I'd like Barry to share his door-knocking results for the ring road. I know there is a lot of opposition to it as well. So why are we spending $1billion of taxpayer dollars on something that might not have majority support?

Why? Because it is essential and sensible infrastructure for this city's long-term future.

I'd also like to remind him the levee was polled numerous times by multiple stakeholders including Bill Byrne, the Rocky MP at the time. There was also considerable community consultation.

If Rockhampton misses this levee opportunity - and based on the State MP's comments, I'd say that's a fair bet - I believe future leaders will eventually build it because it remains a "no- brainer” project.

When you look at the savings for every major flood, it pays itself off very quickly, not to mention the other investment advantages with the transformation from flood zone to dry.

Trucks stuck in flood waters in Depot Hill as the Fitzroy River approaches 8.6m.    Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin
Trucks stuck in flood waters in Depot Hill as the Fitzroy River approaches 8.6m. Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin Chris Ison ROK020213cdepot6

In 2011 when The Morning Bulletin looked into why the Bruce Highway into Rockhampton wasn't flood proofed to 11 metres, we discovered the concept had been sunk by bickering politicians. A project that really should have been completed in the 1950s was finally finished in 2017.

It's a similar story to the Rockhampton Hospital Carpark. It was funded by taxpayer dollars following a campaign by this paper despite strong opposition from the Federal Labor candidate of the time who refused to back it.

I see Mr O'Rourke flags support for a $50m levee bank that would only protect Gladstone Rd and the associated businesses from flooding.

I wonder where Mr O'Rourke sits on the $5billion cross river rail project for Brisbane? I wonder what he'll say if there is a $60m cost blowout there?

Will he still back it or will he consider the taxpayers of Rockhampton?

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I see he also repeats his line about $4325 in capital spending for every person who lives here in the last state budget.

"This is one of the highest per capita spends in the state and more than double what the southeast corner sees”.

I see he didn't include that this was the benefit of a string of major projects coming on board in this financial year.

I hope he intends to keep that rate of spending up because we'll need it.

Something I'd like to point out to Mr O'Rourke is this city's high unemployment rate of 7 per cent and the fact that in 2009 Rockhampton's median house price was $330,000 compared to Brisbane's $450,000.

Ten years later and Rockhampton's median house price is $255,000 and Brisbane is $566,000.

As a taxpayer I have never had a problem with spending taxpayer money on projects that will enhance and progress this region.

$150million is cheap for what we'll get back over the next 100 years. Put that in the next budget.