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Monday, 12 September 2011
Page: 9611

Cyclone Yasi

Mr KATTER (Kennedy) (14:38): My question without notice is to the Prime Minister. Is the Prime Minister aware that it has now been eight months since Cyclone Yasi devastated Mission Beach and Cardwell, both totally dependent for economic survival to access to the sea, islands and reef? In eight months not a single action has been taken to restore this lost access. This has left 300 kilometres without any safe harbour. The federal government's quick and serious commitment in earmarking $950 million for North Queensland has not been matched by the moribund Queensland flood—not cyclone—recovery authority. In light of this, could the Prime Minister assure the House that this blatant neglect will be addressed and that the PM will make good the government's much appreciated commitment to essential safe harbour facilities at regular intervals along our major recreational asset, the Great Barrier Reef, its islands and seas?

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:39): I thank the member for Kennedy for his question. Earlier this year I had the opportunity to travel with him to cyclone affected areas and we actually met with a number of people from Mission Beach, who talked to me about the safe harbour arrangements that he describes in the parliament today and which he certainly described to me during the course of that visit. So I do thank him for continuing to represent very strongly and continuously the needs of people in the local area.

What I believe the member for Kennedy would agree with is that the reconstruction work from the cyclone is progressing and that funds have been flowing to North Queensland, just as they are flowing in other parts of Queensland. The Cardwell Esplanade and Marine Infrastructure Recovery Project has been officially launched, marking an important step forward in plans to reconstruct Cardwell after the devastating effects of the cyclone. The local mayor, Bill Shannon, who the member for Kennedy and I had an opportunity to talk to when I travelled with him, said on 19 August this year that the launch of that project symbolised a new phase of recovery work for the region and that it was building something new and better for those towns.

All of that work has been possible because of the $15 million the state and federal governments have made available. Bill Shannon also said that he felt that restoring Cardwell foreshore to its former beauty and functionality was the best thing that could be done for the town, considering its importance as a tourist attraction and as a recreation and relaxation area for local residents. A 1.4 kilometre section of the Bruce Highway, part of the Cardwell foreshore, and the Clump Point and Dunk Island Jetty will also be reconstructed through this package.

Regarding the building of marine infrastructure, as raised directly by the member's question, I am aware that he is championing the cause and that he is passionate about building a safe boat harbour at Mission Beach. Earlier this year, he will remember, when he raised the matter with me I said the government would create an interdepartmental committee to look at these issues, and I understand the chair of the committee has met with the member for Kennedy. The committee will report back to the government and inform our consideration on this matter. In the meantime, of course, we will continue to deliver the $5.6 billion that is being provided for reconstruction after the summer of natural disasters and we will continue to work strongly with the cyclone affected communities. I thank the member for his question.