Recovery from the 2018-19 disaster season

Queensland’s recovery from the devastating 2018-19 disaster season, which saw 12 natural disasters leave a more than a billion dollar damage bill, is almost complete with the overwhelming majority of reconstruction projects completed or in their final stages.

A total of 62 Queensland councils were activated for disaster assistance in 2018-19 from a range of events including the catastrophic 2018 Central Queensland Bushfires and the one-in-500-year monsoon trough flooding of early 2019.

The events of 2018-19 devastated large parts of the state and impacted residents, small business owners, primary producers and a wide range of industry operators.

A broad range of assistance was made available through the jointly funded DRFA, including a $242 million extraordinary assistance package established after the 2019 monsoon trough floods and a $12 million extraordinary assistance package in response to the Central Queensland Bushfires.

The $102 million betterment program saw 35 councils upgrade more than 100 projects, including roads, bridges, culverts and other essential infrastructure, to make them stronger and more resilient to natural disasters in the future.

Key projects delivered included Cloncurry Shire Council’s $9.6 million upgrade of Sedan Dip Road, McKinlay Shire Council’s sealing of a 25-kilometre section of Gilliat-McKinlay Road thanks to $3.5 million in betterment funding, and Palm Island’s $800,000 betterment works on Wallaby Point Road.

Other key recovery and reconstruction highlights from 2018-19 season include:

  • more than $35 million distributed in personal hardship assistance to approximately 125,000 people
  • $129 million in recovery grants and more than $7.9 million in low interest loans to more than 3000 primary producers, small businesses and not-for-profit organisations.
  • more than 11,000 kilometres of the state road network were closed or had restricted access during disaster events in activated local government areas, including approximately 3000 kilometres impacted by more than one event. Key reconstruction projects delivered included Alice River Bridge (Hervey Range Road); Flinders Highway; Richmond–Winton Road; Bruce Highway (Townsville–Ingham); Mount Spec Road (Paluma Range); Hervey Range Road; and Kennedy Developmental Road (Winton–Boulia).
  • the $18 million Community and Recreational Assets program, which saw facilities restored at 45 not-for-profit sport and recreation organisations and councils across the Townsville, Richmond, McKinlay, Flinders, Cloncurry, Hinchinbrook, Lockhart River, Carpentaria and Cassowary Coast Council regions. Key projects included a $1.86 million refurbishment of the Townsville Cycle Club velodrome, $1.2 million for riverbank works and a retaining wall at Innisfail Bowls Club, $1.2 million to rebuild fairways at Townsville Golf Club and $172,018 for repairs to the Richmond Shire council tennis courts.
  • the approval of 145 environmental projects for 17 project partners through the $46 million Environmental Recovery Program to rehabilitate and restore flood-affected riverine and coastal environments. Key projects included river bank stabilisation works to limit the amount of sediment reaching the Great Barrier Reef and the Gulf; beach nourishment and revegetation works to improve dune stability and increase resilience in coastal zones; and targeted pest and weed projects to limit the spread of invasive species.  
  • The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) developed and assisted with the delivery of the $14 million North West Queensland Beef recovery package which supported initiatives such as:
    • flood freight restocking and agistment subsidies for primary producers of up to $50,000 per year for up to two years
    • exceptional disaster loans for primary producers
    • industry recovery officers and rural financial counsellors.

DAF also developed and supported the delivery of a $3 million pest and weed control program across the north-west.