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20 May 2013
The Queensland Government has committed $100,000 to complete engineering work for flood mitigation plans in Roma.
The funding will also cover the cost of a comprehensive public engagement strategy.
Roma has flooded three times in the last three years, but each flood has been different, Maranoa Mayor Robert Loughnan told insuranceNEWS.com.au.
This engineering work has therefore been extended to consider mitigation strategies for each flood type, including drainage issues as well as overflow from different catchments.
“Whatever mitigation strategy we adopt we want to make sure it can handle all those events,” Mr Loughnan said.
He says the funding is “a sign of real goodwill” from Queensland Premier Campbell Newman after the council explained mitigation studies have already cost it $300,000.
“[But] sympathy doesn’t build these things,” he said.
A statement from Mr Newman says the funding will be provided from the Government’s southwest flood mitigation fund.
“The Government wants the planning done quickly,” Mr Newman said. “We see this as a down payment on the funding we’ll provide to build the levee that will be a long-term asset for the town and the region.”
The council says the levee will cost $8.9 million and the mitigation work – including drainage, house lifting and land swaps – will cost $15 million. Federal, state and local governments are expected to provide the funds, but it is unclear when they will do so.
Mr Loughnan also hopes to appease Suncorp after the insurer stopped writing new cover in Roma in May and called on governments to complete mitigation work.
“They were good to us in the first two floods,” Mr Loughnan said. “We’ve been disappointed with Suncorp’s attitude demanding we install a levee rather than consider all the mitigation options.”
The mayor says he knows one resident who had a small amount of water in a downstairs laundry and whose premium soared 1500% from $800 to $12,000.
Another resident’s premium increased from $1500 to $8000 after he suffered serious flood damage this year.
Suncorp Corporate Affairs Manager Marcus Taylor told insuranceNEWS.com.au that Suncorp welcomes the funding, but will only start writing new business in the town when work starts on mitigation projects.
He says Suncorp is assessing the situation and will seek clarity from the State Government about the timing of its funding before the company considers re-pricing.
“We can’t re-price based on speculation but we can re-price based on infrastructure,” he said.
Insurance Council of Australia CEO Rob Whelan says similar planning “should be under way for many other communities in flood-prone parts of Australia”.
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