Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Bligh discusses flooding tragedy -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

TRACY BOWDEN, PRESENTER: Anna Bligh, you visited some of the areas worst affected by the flooding,
can you give us your impressions?

ANNA BLIGH, QLD PREMIER: Ah yes Tracy, it's devastation out there. This is without doubt a tragedy
on an unprecedented scale.

Just to give you some context, we now have 22 towns or cities that are either substantially flooded
or are isolated because the roads have been cut off to them. That represents some 200,000 people
spanning an area that's bigger than the size of France and Germany combined, so the logistical
effort to ensure that they have food, that they can be accommodated, they can be kept safe.

At the same time as we have major centres like Emerald and Rockhampton facing or bracing now for
the worst floods that they've ever seen, means that we're certainly seeing something unfold here in
Queensland that frankly is just a tragedy.

TRACY BOWDEN: How do you think people are holding up, because obviously they don't know when
they're going to be back to their homes, they're obviously very worried about their businesses,
their belongings, how are they feeling?

ANNA BLIGH: Well, we now have 17 evacuation centres accommodating about 850 people and that could
rise by more than 2,000 tomorrow depending on what happens in Emerald, so a lot of people don't yet
know what's happened to their homes and they're very frightened about that. A lot of people have
got back to at least look down their street and see that the water is already lapping at the
rooftops, so they know they're going home to something unimaginable.

They've lost precious family items. Some of them still, I think, are in a state of shock and it
won't be as you heard Greg Goebel say, until maybe a week's time when they get back and they see
the water's receded and really understand not just what's happened to them and their family, but
their neighbours, their street, their whole suburbs.

There is a lot of heartache yet to come, but in Rockhampton for example, we are bracing for what
might be as I've said, the biggest flood they've ever experienced. This is a city of some 75,000
people, but we were trucking in, for example this afternoon we trucked 1,000 mattresses in from
Gladstone to the Ag College there sorry to, into Rockhampton to the university, where we might be
accommodating more than 2,000 people in the next couple of days.

So we've yet to see a lot of people really are watching the waters come up and don't know if it
will be their house that goes next. So, still a lot of unknowns for a lot of people.

TRACY BOWDEN: You're obviously focusing on the job ahead, but when you actually got out there and
saw what was happening close up, were you affected by it?

ANNA BLIGH: It's impossible not to be affected. As you fly over these towns you can see whole areas
where all you can see is the roof tops and you know that underneath those roofs are precious family
memories, photos, things that can never be recovered.

Talking to many of the people... you know, this is, it's such a special time of year. Most people
are spending it with their family and their friends and I spoke to one woman who was looking at her
house down the street where the water was lapping the roof and she just said you know, "Two and a
half days ago, Christmas day we were playing cricket in the front yard", so in just 48 hours, her
family's life had been turned completely upside-down.

In some places like Bundaberg they had very little notice and they've left with pretty much what
they were standing up in. Other places like Emerald they've had several days to get ready, but it
is still huge upheaval. People gathering up their children, their pets, trying to work out what
they can take with them. As I said... and it's not just one town, people might have otherwise gone
to friends in the neighbouring town, but that town's affected.

So you know, we're really seeing something that we haven't seen before when you talk about the
number of places all happening at once. It's stretching our volunteers, it's stretching our
emergency response, but so far they're really rising to that challenge and you know, they're doing
an absolutely magnificent job.

TRACY BOWDEN: Some key industries have been affected, obviously enormous infrastructure, road,
bridge damage. Can you even begin to count the cost in dollar terms?

ANNA BLIGH: Clearly we've still got waters rising and it won't be until they start receding that we
really get a much better picture, but we know already on just the State roads that we're aware of
there's probably now about $1.5 billion worth of damage to bridges on state road systems and some
of the road network.

That's without counting national highway, council roads and other infrastructure such as schools
and sporting clubs and a range of areas where we haven't been able to do any assessment. That, of
course, doesn't count for the private property, major industries.

You've just heard that restaurant owner as well as major mining companies, the agricultural sector.

Flying over Emerald today you can see just the bare green tops of orchards that will have lost
everything, and many days before you'll see the water come down there, so very unlikely they'll be
able to save any of that crop.

So agriculture, tourism, hospitality, mining - very big economic impacts and particularly in some
of those big industries like mining and agriculture, I think we can expect to see a reverberation
through the national economy in the weeks and months ahead.

TRACY BOWDEN: Now you've set up a special disaster relief fund, kicked in $1 million, the Federal
Government has matched that. How will that work, who will that money be for?

ANNA BLIGH: Of course, people in all of these areas are eligible for State and Federal Government
assistance and depending on means testing and their circumstances and whether they're insured,
they'll be eligible for different levels of assistance.

And, of course, Federal and State governments will be investing billions in the rebuilding effort.
The relief appeal is really a way for the community to dig deep and help their fellow Australians.
That will be administered by the Red Cross. They've got great experience and they've administered
these appeals for us in the past. It's the Red Cross who know the families on the ground that are
really the ones doing it tough and they administer it on behalf of the Government, so you can be
very certain that the money you donate will go to the people most in need and the Red Cross will
see to that.

I'm very pleased to say we've seen some very big donations. Xstrata Coal have donated $1 million as
have Coles. The Coles supermarket in Emerald is flooded as we speak, but they've put in $1 million.
But you've now seen the fund hit close to $5 million in less than 24 hours.

So, I thank everybody who's been part of that so far. It's the difference sometimes between what
Government can do and what the community can add to that to make a house back into a home.

TRACY BOWDEN: Well as you say Premier, this disaster is far from over, so thank you very much for
speaking to us in the middle of it all.

ANNA BLIGH: Thank you very much Tracy.