Maryborough Chamber of Commerce president Lance Stone.
Maryborough Chamber of Commerce president Lance Stone.

Economy washed out by flood

THE FLOODS could wash away up to 150 jobs and tens of millions of dollars from the Maryborough region, as businesses struggle to recover.

Maryborough Chamber of Commerce president Lance Stone said it could take up to two years for the economic situation to return to its pre-flood levels.

“Anywhere between 50 and 150 jobs are really at risk with the short-term, significant impact,” Mr Stone said.

“There will be millions of dollars in business losses and lost productivity.”

He said businesses such as supermarkets, cafes and restaurants would suffer from not only the local flood damage, but the devastation further south.

“The lack of access to stock to replenish supplies will hit them hard,” he said.

“It will take at least 12 months for many businesses to even get back to square one.”

But the agriculture sector could take even longer to recover, with growers losing not only their main crops.

“It could take two years for primary producers to get back to normal, and the fishing sector will need to re-establish itself because millions of tonnes of soil has gone out into the bay, and it will have a big impact,” Mr Stone said.

Fraser Coast Council executive manager for strategic integration Kim Roberts said there could be millions of dollars damage to road infrastructure that would need to be paid for.

“It is difficult to say at this stage exactly how much it will cost, but there will be infrastructure, roads and bridges, that will need repairs,” Mr Roberts said.

He said because of the region’s already-high unemployment and dwindling tourism dollars, Maryborough was behind the eight-ball economically even before the waters rose.

“We haven’t suffered anywhere near the destruction that other places have seen, but economically, the floods have been just as devastating for our community as the damage in the other regions,” Mr Roberts said.

“We are really in unchartered waters; there will be unprecedented flow-on effects because Brisbane has been affected as well.”

The Port Restaurant owner Zane Haas said his doors would be closed until at least next week due to the fall-out from the floods.

“I didn’t think it was feasible to open at the moment because I have a couple of staff members that can’t get in to work, and because we usually get all of our produce fresh from the Rocklea markets, which are flooded,” Mr Haas said.

“In my mind, the general public comes first, and they need the food supplies first before we do.”

Maryborough Beemart manager Cathy Palfrey said food outlets would be strapped for cash in coming months, because produce prices were expected to soar.

“There’s no end in sight, everyone is going to suffer,” she said.

“We’re trying to source produce from all over Australia but even just the freight is triple or quadruple to get it here.”

She said she hoped her business would bounce back, but it depended on how her main customers — restaurants and cafes — fared.

“There’s no doubt prices will rise, with all of Toowoomba and Stanthorpe flooded,” Mrs Palfrey said.

“They’re trying to feed 100% of the country with only 30% of the stock.”

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