Flood damage pain continues

THERE could be a frantic race between local councils to attract contract workers to repair flood damaged roads after the Federal Government said it would not cover local authorities' day labour costs on time spent fixing up flood-damaged roads.

While Southern Downs Regional Council yesterday decided to try and lobby the government over its decision in a last-ditch effort, CEO Rod Ferguson said the news came as a real shock.

Council waited until just this month to hear the crushing news, which will now mean capital works will be significantly delayed into the future, potentially several years.

Previously Queensland has been the only state to receive compensation for day labour costs in the wake of natural disasters.

However, this time around, the Federal Government decided to give councils the size of Southern Downs just $1 million towards this bill, which has previously been estimated at around $20 million by the time roadworks are finished.

Canberra will cover the cost of contractors and temporary workers employed to help with flood recovery.

But with the majority of Queensland in a similar situation, Mr Ferguson said attracting contractors would be no mean feat.

“If, in theory, there is $70 million worth of flood damage, you're looking at $15 to $20 million of that being labour,” Mr Ferguson said.

“They will cover contractor expenses, temporary staff, overtime on permanent staff, material and plant expenses.”

He said this meant the more contract work council put out, the more money it would recover.

The final assessments of local flood damage are still being done and Mr Ferguson said he couldn't put a figure on what the decision would cost the council but the biggest issue would be finding contractors to do the work.

He said the Department of Main Roads south Queensland flood repair bill was $540 million and they would be looking for contractors to help fulfil that need.

“It may take a lot longer to get the work done,” he said.

“It's a balancing act and though LGAQ is still lobbying to get more parcels of money, we're not budgeting to receive any more.

“The government would say it won't pay day labour as we allow for that cost anyway but our response is yes, but that labour was to go towards capital programs, where as now you're expecting us to put that in just repairing roads.”

It will be a council decision how much work is put out to contract but Cr Vic Pennisi yesterday urged council to write to Regional Development Australia in all states to ask them to take up the cause.

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