Mr PERRETT (Gympie—LNP) (2.25 pm): The Gympie floods were a catastrophe. That is the
official designation from the Insurance Council. It was Gympie’s second-worst flood in recorded history.
In some parts it was the second flood this year. Some areas were still recovering from flooding caused
by ex-Tropical Cyclone Seth in January. At 22.96 metres, this flood caused devastation everywhere.
Most heartbreakingly, three people died. More than 80 per cent of a year’s rainfall fell across a few
days. It gouged roads, inundated houses and businesses, washed away livestock and assets,
destroyed crops, contaminated grounds and building structures, and destroyed thousands of kilometres
of fencing. Residents were evacuated as it cut roads and bridges, creating fuel and grocery shortages.
Depending on where they lived, some could not access the hospital, some doctors surgeries
were closed as staff could not get there, isolated residents could not get to pharmacies, courts made
special arrangements and schools were closed. One Mile State School and Two Mile State School were
flooded. Students at Two Mile school can remain onsite; One Mile is significantly damaged. Students
from One Mile have alternative learning arrangements, but this shifts the problem to another school and
puts pressure on its staff and facilities. It is a temporary measure which is unsatisfactory for the school
community and cannot be sustained. The government must fast-track investment in new buildings and
flood-proof them. This school and its community—Principal Stuart Bell, the fine teaching staff and the
students—deserve more than makeshift classrooms. Five years ago the school lost blocks and a shed
from a fire. Demountables should be temporary, not the solution. It is not good enough. We need to do
better. The government needs to construct new buildings above flood level.
Gympie was isolated to the north and south. The Cooloola Coast was an island, with its three
communities cut off from each other. Much of the Mary Valley, Widgee, The Palms, Goomboorian,
Southside, Curra and communities across all points of the compass were cut off and isolated. Bells
Bridge, at the intersection of the Wide Bay and Bruce highways, was such a mess it remained closed
for days after the Bruce Highway had reopened. There were cuts to power supplies, internet and phone
links; power to many centres was cut because electricity distribution equipment, including transformers
and switches, was under metres of water; and power cuts affected the water treatment works, resulting
in calls to conserve water and fears of health risks. Gympie Today described it as ‘the fundamentals of
western civilisation began to fall apart, in areas including public health, water supplies, food logistics
and transport systems.
Gympie is not immune to floods, but you must go back 129 years—to 1893—to find a higher
flood. That reached 25.45 metres and was followed two weeks later with a 21.08-metre flood. Gympie
is resilient. Our residents, local organisations, volunteers and businesses always step up. Every worker,
family member and business rose to the challenge. They deserve our thanks: the emergency services
workers; the SES; the local disaster management group, chaired by Mayor Glen Hartwig; volunteers;
service organisations; and those who donated their time and services to help before, during and after
the floods. I thank the ADF for its help.
The devastation cannot be overemphasised. The Premier and several ministers have visited. It
is a pity it took a catastrophic event for the Premier to have her first visit since 2015. The Leader of the
Opposition has visited Gympie several times, including in January. He attended a LDMG briefing in
January and again in March.
Ms Pease: She’s a little bit busy.
Mr PERRETT: I take that interjection; she has never been there. In a previous role I was the
LDMG chair during the 2011 and 2013 floods. I understand that the systems Gympie has in place to
manage floods are second to none. This one stretched every system possible.
I showed the opposition leader and the member for Warrego the extent of the devastation
firsthand. They spoke to business owners, workers and residents. They were briefed by the mayor.
They saw the state of our roads and damage right across the region. I have written to the Premier
reinforcing that Gympie needs specific and additional assistance to futureproof the region to repair
infrastructure and help residents, businesses, primary producers, sporting groups and community
organisations to recover. It cannot keep building infrastructure in the same location to the same
standard and expect a different result. The government needs to be serious about betterment.
Betterment projects should be a priority. Betterment funds should be permanent