Premier Pledges $1.5M To Binna Burra As QLD's Fire Recovery Effort Begins
As the damage toll of this month's devastating bushfires begins to emerge, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has vowed the government will help the state rebuild.
Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday, Palaszczuk said Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements have been activated for four local government areas, including the Scenic Rim, Southern Downs, Noosa and the Sunshine Coast.
More than $351,000 in personal hardship assistance has already been paid to close to 2000 people, according to the Premier, with assistance for primary producers, small business and NFPs in the Southern Downs and Scenic Rim regions now also being offered financial help.
"Vast areas of Queensland have been gripped by devastating fires over the past fortnight in what has become a sadly familiar phenomenon for our state," Palaszczuk said.
"Several communities have been left physically scarred by these frightening and destructive fires but, while they will rebuild, the emotional scars will surely take longer to heal."
Across the state, 17 homes were lost in this month's blazes and 55,000 hectares have been burned through, in what was the worst start to the state's bushfire season in more than a century of records.
On Wednesday, Palaszczuk said more than 600 community warnings have been issued in the past fortnight.
Communities in the Gold Coast Hinterland and Scenic Rim regions were particularly hard hit by the fires, with the Queensland Government on Wednesday promising to partner with tourism operators to get them "back on their feet".
Palaszczuk promised a $1.2 million partnership with the O'Reilly family for major redevelopments of the Green Mountain campground at Lamington National Park.
The historic Binna Burra lodge, which was gutted in the fires this month, has been promised $1.5 million to build Australia's first permanent climbing course.
The announcement comes ahead of a meeting of workers' transition group, which will help find new jobs for 70 of the lodge's employees who were laid off after the fire.
The lodge was the biggest employer in the area before it burnt down last week, but Palaszczuk said lodge chairman Steve Noakes had no choice but to let staff go until it could be rebuilt.
On Wednesday the Novotel Group announced it will interview every qualified Binna Burra staff member in a bid to give them new employment.
Former Police Commissioner To Oversee Fire Recovery
Speaking in Parliament, the premier also announced the appointment of a State Recovery Coordinator to manage recovery efforts for communities and individuals across Queensland.
Former Police Commissioner Ian Stewart, who acted as State Disaster Coordinator during Cyclone Yasi and the 2011 floods in Toowoomba, Grantham and Brisbane, has been tasked with overseeing recovery efforts.
During his time as Commissioner, Stewart was also involved in efforts during Cyclones Marcia and Debbie and last year's devastating bushfires in the central parts of the state.
Latest On QLD Fires
While conditions have eased for the most part across Queensland, residents have been warned to stay on alert with the bushfire season only just beginning.
"This is the first time this bushfire season that we have experienced conditions like this and while we are focusing on community recovery, the bushfire season will be with us for several months," Palaszczuk told Parliament.
On Wednesday, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services were monitoring a blaze on North Stradbroke Island which is inaccessible in a swamp area.
A Traditional Owner's camp about two kilometres away is being evacuated.