Qld govt demands flood-proofing in budget

Robyn Wuth and Marty Silk |

Qld Health Minister Yvette D’Ath says public health funding should be a 50-50 state-federal split.
Qld Health Minister Yvette D’Ath says public health funding should be a 50-50 state-federal split.

Flood-proofing Queensland homes damaged in the recent floods must be a federal priority before other infrastructure projects, the state government says.

The Commonwealth will contribute $1.12 billion to upgrading the Brisbane-Gold Coast passenger rail line and another $1.6 billion to extend the Sunshine Coast railway from Beerwah to Maroochydore.

The Morrison government says funding the projects in Tuesday night’s budget is crucial before the 2032 Brisbane Olympics.

Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick has welcomed the funding for both transport projects, but says flood-proofing thousands of homes after last month’s deluge should be the priority.

He wants the federal government to commit to 50-50 funding for a $771 million state plan to retrofit, raise or sell back about 500 of the worst-hit homes.

“I want to know what we’re going to do for families who live in Rocklea and Goodna, they don’t live in LNP seats on the Sunshine Coast, but their homes have been wiped out twice in 10 years,” Mr Dick told reporters on Monday.

“We need to do better as a state in a nation, and I’m sick of Scott Morrison making these announcements that are off for five or 10 years when we need action today.”

He said all levels of government needed to focus on ensuring people were out of harm’s way by lifting homes off the ground or moving them to higher ground.

Amid warnings of renewed flooding across southeast Queensland on Monday, the treasurer said the Commonwealth had no time to waste.

“Look at today, look at the rain. We are in another major weather event in Queensland,” Mr Dick said.

“This could last for a number of days, and there are traumatised Queenslanders who look to the skies being opened on them again and want to know that their governments – at local, state and federal level – are taking action to protect them.

“We put our money on the table. We want that from the federal government, and we want it today.”

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath joined the funding push, calling for the Morrison government to stump up for half of Queensland’s public healthcare bill.

The state currently covers 55 per cent of the bill and the Commonwealth must up its contribution, she said.

“All the states and territories, regardless of their political persuasion, have been calling on the Morrison government, demanding a fair 50-50 funding split,” she told ABC Radio on Monday.

“We can’t control the growth in demand because (of) failures in the primary and allied healthcare system and the Medicare system.”

The Queensland government’s budget remarks came under fire from state opposition leader David Crisafulli who called for an end to the “disappointing” political squabbling.

“It’s a golden opportunity to get on and build infrastructure and partner with the federal government,” he said.

“Already the political argy-bargy is underway … cut the squabbling, grab the money, start the plan. Get it rolling.”