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Tuesday, 28 March 2006
Page: 118

Mr LINDSAY (4:06 PM) —I thank the opposition whip for her courtesy and consideration for allowing me to speak at this time. A week or so ago North Queensland was hit by Cyclone Larry. But the message that I would like to convey this afternoon is that North Queensland is open for business. Yes, a small part of North Queensland has been devastated—the part around Innisfail, Babinda, Tully, Mission Beach, up on the tablelands, Malanda and Millaa Millaa—but it is only a small part of North Queensland. Certainly, all of the major tourist centres remain open for business. What has just been wonderful and brilliant is that our prize, the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage area, has been unaffected by the cyclone. In fact, perhaps it has been affected in an interesting and positive way: water temperatures have cooled and coral bleaching has perhaps been reduced. But my message this afternoon is that North Queensland is open for business and anyone who was planning a trip this year, this month or next month should continue on that trip and support North Queenslanders at this time.

A group that has not received perhaps the respect that it deserves is Telstra. Lots of things are said about Telstra; often those things are negative. But when Cyclone Larry came through, of the 146 mobile phone base stations in the area, only three went out of service—and they went out of service because of physical damage to the towers. It was not the equipment that failed. It was not the power supply that failed. It was the physical damage. Telstra, to its very great credit, understood that many home phone services became inoperative, probably because the houses that had the services in them got blown away. Telstra undertook to those customers to divert their home phone line to any mobile service, whether it be a Telstra mobile service or a competitor’s mobile service, free of charge for a year. That is a terrific gesture on behalf of Telstra. I guess that Telstra is the Qantas of the communications sector of Australia. Long may it be the Australian flagship—the technology leader in this country. I thank Telstra for what it has done for the people of North Queensland.