Two years since Severe Tropical Cyclone Debbie made landfall at Airlie Beach, recovery of impacted communities continues to progress as reconstruction works near completion.
Coming on this anniversary is the announcement the Palaszczuk Government has extended its recovery commitment to the Whitsundays community with another $5.225 million committed to help rebuild Proserpine Entertainment Centre.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the funding was in addition to the $500,000 announced in May last year for the centre, which was closed after sustaining extensive damage during the Category 4 cyclone.
“A revitalised entertainment centre in Proserpine will bring economic, social, and cultural benefits to the whole of the Whitsundays,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“Whitsunday Regional Council identified the rebuilding of Proserpine Entertainment Centre as a priority project that would assist the region’s ongoing recovery, and my government has listened and is delivering for the community.
The new centre will have a larger auditorium with state-of-the-art audio/visual equipment, and importantly, it will comply with all modern safety and building codes, making it more resilient to future natural disasters.
Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick said infrastructure projects like this were an important part of restoring community life following natural disasters.
“The Palaszczuk Government is standing by its commitment to help those impacted by Cyclone Debbie recover and be better prepared for disasters in the future,” Mr Dick said.
“Investment in projects such as this increases employment, improves the resilience of our regions, and has a positive impact on local economies and the overall health, safety and wellbeing of the community.”
Severe Tropical Cyclone Debbie – the most costly cyclone to impact Australia since Cyclone Tracy in 1974 – left a trail of destruction from Bowen to the New South Wales border.
In total 36 local government areas activated for the jointly funded Commonwealth-State Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA) assistance.
More than 163,000 individuals received grants, personal support, outreach visits and phone calls, and more than $32 million was paid to individuals and families.
Insurance losses from the event reached $1.8 billion, and the total NDRRA relief and recovery cost now stands at more than $700 million.
“Recognising the impact of this disaster went beyond infrastructure,” Mr Dick said.
“We also saw $14.9 million invested in a Community Recovery Fund to restore social networks and run community mental health programs in cyclone-impacted areas.
“Of the 36 councils activated for assistance, almost one-third have completed their recovery and reconstruction programs.
“Our other state agencies have also played a huge part in these recovery efforts.
For example, the Department of Transport and Main Roads has completed major reconstruction projects on a number of state-owned roads,” he said.
“This includes final works on 72 sites on Gold Coast-Springbrook Road and 26 sites and two major landslips across Mackay’s Sarina Range.
“Meanwhile, joint Commonwealth-State NDRRA $111 million Category C and D special assistance package have supported recovery and resilience in the wake of the cyclone.
“This has been delivered via a $41.9 million Betterment Fund, $35 million Environmental Recovery Package, $17.3 million Local Council Package, a $2.1 million Economic Recovery Package and the $14.9 million Community Recovery Fund.”
Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert said the rebuild was another example of the Palaszczuk government’s committment to the recovery of the region.
“This sort of work, like the $8.8 million revitalisation of Queens Park and the $4.6 million in erosion works here in Mackay, is making our community stronger,” Ms Gilbert said.
“When you see these works delivered there’s an undeniable sense of pride, and it’s a reflection on us as people – no matter the adversity, we’ll always stand tall.”
Ms Palaszczuk said that while Queensland was now dealing with the impacts of another big disaster season, the damage from Cyclone Debbie would be remembered for years to come.
“We understand the effects on communities, but Queenslanders are resilient and our ability to recover from even the biggest disasters is remarkable,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“Since Cyclone Debbie, Queensland has faced 16 natural disasters including the recent unprecedented central Queensland bushfires and devastating flooding in the north-west.
“But as with Queensland’s recovery after Cyclone Debbie, my government will continue to support local communities on their road to recovery.”
Under the NDRRA, councils have until 30 June 2019 to complete restoration works on eligible projects.
Whitsunday Regional Council has an extension to 30 June 2020 to complete restoration works on Shute Harbour.