Cyclone Debbie rebuild: Use local workers, not ring-ins

Trisha Clarke, 30, a Proserpine resident has been left with insulation filling her house and water in all rooms after their roof was ripped off by cyclone Debbie.
Trisha Clarke, 30, a Proserpine resident has been left with insulation filling her house and water in all rooms after their roof was ripped off by cyclone Debbie. Liam Kidston

BUILDERS are urging insurers to use local labour rather than a southern-based workforce to rebuild the region savaged by Cyclone Debbie.

Master Builders Association North Queensland and the Townsville Chamber of Commerce say local builders and tradies should be tasked to rebuild their communities.

Townsville builder Adrian Gabrielli said southern contractors got a lot of the Cyclone Yasi rebuild work.

"The fear is big southern construction companies will manage the projects on behalf of insurers and bring workers from down south at a premium cost," he said.

"Local contractors would do the job at a better price.

"If insurance companies use local workers, what you'll find is more competitive prices which would benefit the North Queensland community in terms of what we pay for insurance premiums."

Townsville Chamber of Commerce president Troy Popham said North Queensland builders were better suited than southerners because they were used to the conditions.

"We need to get businesses in the Whitsundays, Bowen and Mackay up and running as soon as possible to minimise the impact of this devastating natural disaster," he said.

Master Builders North Queensland regional manager Melissa Coulter said local builders were ready to help rebuild the ravaged towns.

"I've had a lot of feedback from local tradies and builders who want to head over and help as soon as the road is open," she said.

Ms Coulter said Master Builders had made contact with the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA), asking how Cyclone Debbie insurance jobs would be organised.

"Our discussions with the ICA are continuing," she said. "It is important that the … rebuild is carried out by builders and tradies from those regions impacted by the cyclone."

Deputy Premier Jackie Trad said she understood part of the problem was insurers had pre-qualified builders.

"I have today started calling insurance companies … to ensure local contractors get a fair share of the rebuild work," she said. "I do know Suncorp, for example, has already worked to find pre-qualified contractors from regional Queensland to help … and I hope other companies follow suit."

Herbert MP Cathy O'Toole said she would lobby to ensure insurance claim work was carried out by local tradies.

"It would be such a slap in the face after such a horrific weather event to be told that insurance companies will hire a workforce from down south not from North Queensland," she said. "I will ensure we get as many local job opportunities to carry out the rebuild."

ICA spokesman Campbell Fuller said Master Builders and the Housing Industry Association had been asked to provide details of builders who had approached them.

Topics:  cyclone debbie weather

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