Time To Floodproof Far North Queensland 2009: Opinions Essays

Time to floodproof far north Queensland

Opinions, essays, letters and comment on issues of national interest.
The Bruce Highway is the main artery of commerce to Cairns and beyond, and it closes when it’s underwater. (ABC TV News) Far north Queensland has the water that the Murray-Darling Basin lacks, incredibly fertile volcanic soil, and an enormous variety of microclimates. Within 80 kilometres of Cairns, it is estimated that 80 per cent of food crop varieties can be grown. There are relatively few mega-farms, but a lot of small business farmers. So why do we have a problem Firstly, the Queensland Government seems to think we should move to South-East Queensland, get a job in the suburbs and stop unreasonably demanding any money for infrastructure. Everyone knows, after all, that it’s absolutely vital Brisbane suburbs get new road works first. They have congestion! During the recent flooding the supermarket produce shelves were empty for days. No danger of starvation – there were sausages and potatoes, but salad lovers were out of luck. A barge-load of food was shipped up, laboriously unloaded, trucked to stores and disappeared almost immediately. You could buy herbs at Woolies and IGAs in the Cairns region, because we are shipping direct to store (we grow and pack fresh herbs) but we normally supply the whole of far north Queensland via the Woolworths distribution chain, and weren’t able to get through for a week. It perhaps is not general knowledge, but both the major supermarket chains rely on two distribution centres in the entirety of Queensland in Brisbane and Townsville. Cut the road and flood Townsville, and not only can nothing get out, but produce or stocks cannot get in. We gave the produce managers a joke recipe card after finding the only produce in most stores was potatoes: 10 Potato and Herb recipe ideas including mashed potato with basil baked potato with chives, sauteed potato with rosemary. Perhaps we need some Q100 planning, and add ‘long pig’ with lemongrass
During the recent floods, a lot of those ‘whinging farmers’ in FNQ could not get their produce south. So they had to cut costs, and lay off workers. At this point, one might expect some wage assistance, but after a week the best and only advice was to send out separation certificates. We don’t want to lay off our workers. They are highly trained, responsible people who don’t want to sign on to Centrelink or accept charity.

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