First sugar export ship since flood a sweet step to recovery
THE first sugar export ship since the floods hit the Bundaberg region has started loading at the Port of Bundaberg.
Community Recovery and Resilience Minister David Crisafulli, Member for Bundaberg Jack Dempsey and Disaster Recovery Co-ordinator Deputy Commissioner Brett Pointing were at the port this morning to see the ship start to load.
The port has been out of action since the floods washed debris into the river and washed away the navigational aids ships need to operate.
The river has been dredged to make it suitable for ships to move in and out of the port.
Queensland Community Recovery and Resilience Minister David Crisafulli said the arrival of the Celine, a 150-metre sugar cargo ship that arrived yesterday, meant last year's sugar could now be shipped to market, opening up storage for this year's crop.
"The January floods damaged the shipping channel and navigation markers, stranding180,000 tonnes of last season's sugar crush in storage," Mr Crisafulli said.
"The restoration of the Port's infrastructure and the arrival of the Celine means this region is open for business again in time for this year's crush.
"Each time we start one more bridge repair, one more country road opens again, or even a new culvert gets built, we're marching forwards."
Mr Crisafulli said when a town was hit as hard as Bundaberg, it was natural for people to wonder if life would ever get back to normal, especially after the initial shock wore off.
"When there's a lot to do, it's important to measure what's been done," he said.
"In 2011, it took the Bundaberg Regional Council 18 months to get $25 million worth of repair work to the market.
"In 2013, it has taken four months to get $40 million worth of work to market.
"If ever you need proof of what happens when two levels of government work together, the 2013 figures show the rebuilding of roads, the port, water infrastructure and bridges is happening quickly."
Mr Crisafulli said the state was not just rebuilding this time, but using the $80 million Betterment Fund, jointly funded by the Federal Government, to build better.
"We're getting the best value for money that we can to build better positioned and designed infrastructure to minimise damage from future events," he said.
"I don't underestimate the huge social impact, uncertainty and fear people experienced after this disaster, but the state is delivering some long-term solutions that will give them a more secure future."