Growing frustration in Australia's flood-ravaged state of Queensland | Asia Pacific

Growing frustration in Australia's flood-ravaged state of Queensland

Growing frustration in Australia's flood-ravaged state of Queensland

Updated 31 January 2013, 22:01 AEDT

Frustration is rising in parts of the flood affected eastern state of Queensland, over a lack of assistance to deal with the aftermath of the deluge.

In Gayndah, south west of Bundaberg, many residents have been without power and waiting for help at their swamped homes since Sunday.

Queensland's Deputy Premier has also questioned building standards, after newly repaired infrastruture was washed away again.

The total damages bill could reach two-point-four billion dollars, with the state government appealing for patience.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has extra disaster funding, with a one million-dollar donation from the federal government.

Correspondent: Annie Guest

Speakers: Cynthia Berthelsen, president, Gayndah museum; Jeff Seeney, deputy premier, Queensland; Julia Gillard, prime minister of Australia; Brett Pointing, state disaster coordinator, deputy police commissioner

GUEST: In the small rural town of Gayndah, Cynthia Berthelsen is worried about the welfare of her community and as the president of the local museum she's pleased to have saved most artefacts. But the gurney is going and she's knee deep in muddy, smelly debris.

BERTHELSEN: Our museum has been completely inundated with water. We have one building untouched. The machinery shed which was our pride and joy is still encircled with town debris.

GUEST: What's it like for you as the president of the Gayndah Museum to see the flood?

BERTHELSEN: I was one of the inaugural committee members in 1969 when this commenced and it is very, very heartbreaking to see what has happened.

GUEST: And how would you describe the response from authorities? Have you been satisfied with what you've heard so far?

BERTHELSEN: I haven't. So the police have been brilliant and the council workmen have been brilliant. But I haven't seen anything of the SES, fire brigade or army at all. Not a soul. They will be helping other people, but there's not enough to go around.

Again, our SES is a bit like our membership here. They're elderly people. They haven't got the stamina to keep going day in and day out and there's not enough of them.

GUEST: She says the Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney promised assistance was coming when he visited yesterday.

Today Mr Seeney has inspected more damage to the region, which lies in his electorate.

Expensive repairs to some roads and bridges damaged in 2011 were only just finished when they were washed away again by ex-Cyclone Oswald.

That's got Mr Seeney declaring the infrastructure must be stronger.

SEENEY: To see a new bridge that was completed just before Christmas destroyed a couple of months later raises questions about the engineering standards, the design standards that we're using and we have to address that.

GUEST: Mr Seeney's Government is estimating the total damage could run into billions of dollars.

The Federal and State governments haven't managed to the settle the bill from the last disasters so the question of who will pay for Oswald's damage is expected to be a drawn out affair.

Touring Bundaberg this afternoon, the Treasurer Wayne Swan again wouldn't be drawn on whether there'd be a taxpayer funded levy, saying it's too early to discuss it.

By his side was the Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

GILLARD: On top of what will be hundreds of millions of dollars of expenditure into Queensland to help communities through these floods and tornadoes, we will make available $1 million for the Queensland Flood Appeal 2013 and we will ensure that people's donations to that flood appeal are tax deductible.

GUEST: She also says the Federal Government is providing $1,000 disaster relief payments, along with primary producer and other assistance payments.

Many low-lying homes were uninsured because of hefty premiums. Some politicians have hit out at insurers over the issue, but the industry argues governments are responsible for poor planning and a lack of flood mitigation.

Meanwhile, the newly appointed state disaster coordinator, deputy police commissioner Brett Pointing expects to be in Bundaberg 'til at least Christmas. He'll examine the effect on all sectors of the community and industry, from farming to tourism.

POINTING: And work very closely with the people of Bundaberg and the Burnett and with government at all levels to get the order of work right and to get into it as quickly as possible. I'm going to be basing myself in Bundaberg and the area.

GUEST: North of Bundaberg, Rockhampton is preparing for the swollen Fitzroy River to peak on Saturday - at one metre lower than the 2011 flood that inundated 250 properties.

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