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Breakthrough on disaster reconstruction funding

Councils recovering from the devastating floods and cyclones of 2010 and 2011 have been given the green light to use their own workers to repair and restore local infrastructure under ‘value for money’ changes introduced by the Federal Government.

The changes, which will allow councils to bypass the need to hire contractors for disaster recovery work, provided they demonstrate that the arrangements deliver value for money, follow sustained efforts by the Queensland local government sector to reform the system of Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA).

Local Government Association of Queensland President Paul Bell said it was a credit to Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan, Minister Assisting on Queensland Flood Recovery Joe Ludwig and Queensland Senator Jan McLucas that they saw the sense in pushing for and making the changes.
“This means councils can undertake this crucial recovery and reconstruction work cheaper and better with their own labour,’’ Cr Bell said.
“That is a major breakthrough, particularly for remote councils struggling to get contractors to do the work.’’

Cr Bell said he wanted to thank Mr Swan and Senators Ludwig and McLucas, as well as the Queensland Reconstruction Authority, for working to deliver reforms that would help councils as well as represent major savings to the Commonwealth. In some of the reconstruction work, costs will be reduced by as much as 45 percent if council staff are able to complete the job, rather than hiring outsourced labour.

The new ‘value for money’ model will only apply to reconstruction of eligible assets damaged in the 2010-11 floods and Tropical Cyclone Yasi and any of those assets re-damaged in subsequent years.

But Cr Bell said it laid the foundations for councils to argue for a permanent change to NDRRA protocols to lock in value for money models for reconstruction work in the future.