Funding limbo for Qld floods buyback plan

Nick Gibbs |

Major decisions are being put on hold in the wake of Queensland’s flood disaster with a multi-million dollar relief package dependant on federal support.

The state government has pitched a $771 million package giving affected residents options to either refit or sell their damaged homes, with money to be evenly split with the Commonwealth.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Monday said there has been no word from Prime Minister Scott Morrison since the request was made more than a fortnight ago.

“Our 50 per cent is on the table, and we really need to see the Morrison government step up and match it because people need to make decisions,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

The package includes $275 million to retrofit 5500 homes, $100 million to elevate 1000 homes and a $350 million residential buyback program.

The choice of whether to stay or go was faced by residents in and around the town of Grantham, west of Brisbane, after the 2011 floods.

Affected homeowners took part in a voluntary land swap program in which properties in low lying areas were exchanged for a spot in a development on higher ground on a like-for-like basis.

“My advice is that none of those houses were impacted at all during the most recent floods,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“You’ve got to give people that choice…our position is about buying back properties, it’s about raising them up higher, so this package is so important (and) we really need a decision.”

In detailing the state’s flood relief package last month, Deputy Premier Steven Miles said experience suggests people prefer to stay in their homes and make them more resilient.

The proposed package also includes an increase in structural assistance grants from just under $15,000 to $50,000, and another $30 million to assist local governments.