Flood help from threatened agency
A GOVERNMENT agency almost shut down recently gave more than $721 million to weather-battered local governments last year to help them rebuild their communities.
The Queensland Reconstruction Authority was established in 2011 to help councils rebuild areas devastated in last summer's merciless weather.
In its annual report tabled in State Parliament, the authority revealed it dished out $721.9 million in grants to Queensland councils last financial year.
A few of the biggest recipients included Ipswich City Council and the Lockyer Valley Regional Council, which received more than $49 million and $68 million respectively.
The money was used to repair essential infrastructure and revitalise treasured community areas including roads, parks and sporting grounds in Ipswich.
In the Lockyer Valley, the authority helped rebuild Grantham after the devastating floods.
The Cassowary Coast Shire Council also got more than $40 million after Cyclone Yasi ripped through North Queensland in February, 2011.
The authority also works with state and federal governments to deliver projects.
In the annual report, authority chair Major-General Richard Wilson said the body's managerial role was an "extraordinarily challenging and rewarding task."
"And the partnerships between all stakeholders - state, federal and local government, industry and the community - have been crucial to the immense progress we've made," the report reads.
But the authority came under fire recently for being sluggish in delivering its $12.2 billion worth of reconstruction projects in Queensland.
The slow pace led the State Government to move to discontinue the authority past its original 2013 completion date.
But after fierce criticism from communities and the Local Government Association of Queensland, the government back-tracked and decided to extend the authority's completion date to June 2014.
Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney said he was determined the authority's remaining work would be completed as soon as possible and within the 2014 timeframe.
Local Government Association of Queensland chief executive Greg Hallam thanked the government for heeding the warnings of councils that dismantling the QRA would risk unnecessary delays in the completion of reconstruction works.