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Reform of the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements is among the hot topics to be raised in Cairns next week at an Institute of Public Works Engineering Australia conference.

The IPWEAQ NQ Branch Conference theme is ‘Together Towards Tomorrow’ and it will feature more than 20 technical papers presented over two days.

The local committee chose their theme to reflect the role of partnerships in public works along with the need to plan and build for the future, according to NQ Branch president Bruce Gardiner (pictured).

Mr Gardiner said organisers were hoping to attract about 100 delegates to the event, to be held at the Hilton Hotel in Cairns, April 18-20.
In addition to the presentations and networking functions, Mr Gardiner said the event would include 25 trade exhibitors showcasing their products and services.

Mr Gardiner said the keynote presentation from Queensland Reconstruction Authority (QRA) chief executive officer Brendan Moon would be of particular interest to councils throughout the region following recent widespread flooding.

It will cover federal changes to the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements scheme following a spending audit.

“There’s another interesting presentation by a JCU academic Dr Sylvia Tavares on a project she’s undertaking looking at the thermal comfort of cities. So, if you have lots of hardstand areas like roads and footpath and roofs, the cities actually heat up more than if you have greater greenspace,” he said.

Other topics include vehicle automation, an update on the $380 million Mount Emerald Wind Farm project under construction on the Atherton Tableland and various discussions regarding asset management.

The NQ Branch of IPWEAQ covers an area incorporating 30 local councils, from Mackay north to the Torres Strait.

Committee numbers have been boosted this year from four to eight after a call for volunteers attracted extra interest.

“This year we have eight members of our branch committee – so we have new faces and new energy on the committee,” Mr Gardiner said.

“This is the first conference we’re running, but we’re looking at what other activities we can run for people working in public infrastructure in the north.

“There may be opportunities for more information sharing about working and technology sharing. You don’t have to have a two-day conference, you can do it in other ways these days.”

Given their wide geographic spread, even branch committee meetings were mostly held via phone hook-up, he said.

For more information on the IPWEAQ NQ Branch Conference or to register visit

Key public works forum in Cairns